Celtic will come up against AC Milan in a tough Europa League group while Rangers will face another former European Cup winner in Benfica,yesterday Europa League draw has revealed. The draw also placed Arsenal in the same section as the Irish champions Dundalk.
Celtic were in the first pot of seeds for the draw after scraping past Bosnian side Sarajevo away in the playoffs on Thursday, but they could scarcely have asked for a tougher draw than that handed to them in group H.
As well as Milan, Neil Lennon’s side will take on Czech Cup winners Sparta Prague and French club Lille, who qualified automatically for the group stage after finishing fourth in Ligue 1.
Milan, the seven-time European champions, qualified by winning 9-8 on penalties away to Rio Ave in Portugal on Thursday after being rescued by a Hakan Calhanoglu spot-kick right at the end of extra time. The Scottish champions and Milan last met in the Champions League group stage in 2013-14.
They also faced off several times in that competition in the previous decade including in 2006-07, when the Italians narrowly won their last-16 tie en route to winning the trophy.
Rangers’ reward for ousting Turkish giants Galatasaray in the play-offs and qualifying for the group stage for the third season running was a spot in group D with Benfica, Standard Liege of Belgium and Lech Poznan of Poland. Steven Gerrard’s side may fancy their chances of reaching the knockout phase again, after losing to Bayer Leverkusen in the last 16 last season.
There were fewer glamour ties for England’s representatives but all will be expected to progress. Arsenal will play three teams who dropped out of the Champions League qualifiers in Rapid Vienna, Norwegian champions Molde, and Dundalk of Ireland.
It is Dundalk’s second appearance in the group stage in five seasons and the Arsenal clash, in particular, will be a glamour tie for them.