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Arsenal face Cologne, Red Star Belgrade in Europa League

MONACO

Arsenal face a tricky Europa League group stage with ties against Cologne and Red Star Belgrade as Arsene Wenger’s side play in Europe’s second-tier competition for the first time since 1997.

The Gunners were also paired with Belarus club Bate Borisov in Friday’s draw that was kinder to another European giant, AC Milan, who face Austria Vienna, AEK Athens and Rijeka of Croatia.

Wayne Rooney’s Everton have a stern test in a group containing French club Lyon, whose Groupama Stadium will host the final on May 16.

Italian side Atalanta and Cypriot minnows Apollon round out Everton’s group.

French club Nice, who have strengthened their star-studded squad with the addition of Dutch veteran Wesley Sneijder this summer, drew a big-name Italian opponent in the shape of Lazio.

Nice also face early Dutch league leaders Vitesse Arnhem and Zulte Waregem of Belgium.

Paul Pogba of last season’s winners Manchester United was voted the best player of the 2016-2017 competition and received the trophy in a pre-recorded video message shown at the draw in Monaco.

Group A

Villarreal (ESP), Maccabi Tel Aviv (ISR), Astana (KAZ), Slavia Prague (CZE)

Group B

Dynamo Kiev (UKR), Young Boys Berne (SUI), Partizan Belgrade (SRB), Skenderbeu (ALB)

Group C

Sporting Braga (POR), Ludogorets (BUL), Hoffenheim (GER), Basaksehir (TUR)

Group D

AC Milan (ITA), Austria Vienna (AUT), Rijeka (CRO), AEK Athens (GRE)

Group E

Lyon (FRA), Everton (ENG), Atalanta (ITA), Apollon (CYP)

Group F

FC Copenhagen (DEN), Lokomotiv Moscow (RUS), Sheriff Tiraspol (MDA), FC Zlin (CZE)

Groug G

Vitoria Plzen (CZE), Steaua Bucarest (ROM), Hapoel Beer-Sheva (ISR), FC Lugano (SUI)

Group H

Arsenal (ENG), Bate Borisov (BLR), Cologne (GER), Red Star Belgrade (SRB)

Group I

Salzburg (AUT), Marseille (FRA), Vitoria Guimaraes (POR), Konyaspor (TUR)

Group J

Athletic Bilbao (ESP), Hertha Berlin (GER), Zorya Luhansk (UKR), Ostersund (SWE)

Group K

Lazio Rome (ITA), Nice (FRA), Zulte Waregem (BEL), Vitesse Arnhem (NED)

Group L

Zenit Saint-Petersburg (RUS), Real Sociedad (ESP), Rosenborg (NOR), Vardar (MKD)

Paris Saint-Germain were paired alongside Bayern Munich in Group B.

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