Maccabi new boys in for tough test in Europa League

Having secured the services of Steve McClaren and Nick Blackman, Maccabi Tel Aviv were drawn into a relatively tough Europa League group this afternoon, while Hapoel Beer Sheva were handed an easier task.


Seeded in the second level after reaching the group stage of European competition in four of the past five seasons, Maccabi find themselves in Group A with tough Spaniards Villareal, Kazakhstan champions Astana and Slavia Prague of the Czech Republic.

Maccabi manager Jordi Cruyff said: "I think it's a difficult group. We were expecting at least one team that we could feel sure of taking points from but it hasn't happened.

"We want to do well in Europe but our first priority is to win the Israeli league title."

Seeded in the third level Hapoel, received an easier draw in Group G with Czech side Plzen, Steaua Bucharest from Romania and Lugano from Switzerland.

Hapoel manager Barak Bakhar said: "We have to put the disappointment of missing out on the Champions League group stage behind us.

"I'm sure every match in the Europa League will again be a thrilling experience. The group is a huge challenge but last year we progressed and we can do it again."

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