PSV, Feyenoord and AZ have generally responded positively to the draw for the group stage of the Europa League on Friday. The Dutch clubs all see opportunities in their group to advance to the knockout phase.
‘It could have been more difficult’
PSV were linked in group E with PAOK, Granada and Omonia Nicosia. The Eindhoven team qualified for the group stage by surviving two preliminary rounds. On Thursday, the play-offs beat Rosenborg (0-2).
“This is a nice group. I don’t want to call it a stroke of luck, because they are just good opponents, but this offers plenty of opportunities to hibernate. That’s what we aim for”, said captain Denzel Dumfries.
“I don’t really have a very good image of the opponents. PAOK is a good team that has eliminated Benfica, so that will not be easy. Granada is tactically good and also strong on the ball, but we can do that too.”
Feyenoord is in group K with CSKA Moscow, Dinamo Zagreb and Wolfsberger AC. The team from Rotterdam was automatically assured of the group stage because they finished third in the Eredivisie behind Ajax and AZ last season.
“I am happy with the draw, it could have been more difficult. CSKA is a very well-known opponent for me, Dinamo always has a lot of talent and good players and Wolfsberger is less known to me,” said trainer Dick Advocaat.
“It’s going to be exciting. It can go in all directions. But of course we are going for a place in the first two. You must always express that ambition, because otherwise it makes no sense to participate.”
AZ belongs to group F with Napoli, Real Sociedad and Rijeka. The Alkmaarders failed to reach the group stage of the Champions League due to an unnecessary defeat in the third preliminary round against Dinamo Kiev (2-0).
“With Napoli and Sociedad we will have two strong opponents from two strong competitions. But we think we can also achieve a high level. We will have to achieve that”, coach Arne Slot said.
“Rijeka is the great unknown to me. But it is not as if we think we have no chance in advance. We showed against United last year that we were competitive with them and we can now prove that again.”