Manchester United face the unenviable prospect of a 6,000-mile round trip to Nur-Sultan in Kazakhstan to face Astana in their Europa League group.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have also been paired with Partizan Belgrade of Serbia and Dutch club AZ Alkmaar. Arsenal have drawn Germans Eintracht Frankfurt, Belgians Standard Liege and Portuguese club Vitoria.
Wolves pulled out Besiktas of Turkey, Portuguese club Braga and Slovakians Slovan Bratislava. Scottish champions Celtic are with Lazio, Rennes and Cluj. The Romanians eliminated Celtic in the Champions League qualifying rounds. Rangers were placed into Group G alongside Porto, Young Boys Bern and Feyenoord.
The marathon trip to Kazakhstan’s capital city Nur-Sultan to take on Astana is far from ideal for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team amid a hectic autumn domestic schedule. It is, however, the first time United have played in the country so will be a relatively attractive destination for United’s hardcore supporters despite the distance and 6.5-hour flight time.
United haven’t played Partizan Belgrade since the Serbians knocked them out of the European Cup at the semi-finals stage in the 1965-66 season. There is also a first meeting with Dutch side AZ Alkmaar but this could present another logistical issue because the roof of their stadium collapsed in high winds earlier this month.
United’s away fixture there could be switched to another venue if the roof isn’t fixed in time. Alkmaar played their play-off round fixture at the home of FC Twente. Arsenal will be satisfied with their draw, which involves a relatively small amount of travelling. They have never played Bundesliga club Eintracht Frankfurt nor Portuguese club Vitoria Guimaraes.
The Gunners have played Belgians Standard Liege on four occasions in the past, winning all four matches.
They thrashed them 10-0 on aggregate in the 1993-94 European Cup Winners’ Cup and recorded home and away wins in the Champions League group stage in 2009-2010. Wolves are in European competition for the first time since 1980-81 and have already beaten Crusaders, Pyunik and Torino to make it to the group stage.
They’ll be pleased with what should be a winnable group, with a visit to Istanbul to face Besiktas their most daunting assignment. Nuno Espirito Santo will expect his side to overcome Braga and Slovan Bratislava.
F91 Dudelange (Luxembourg)
Dynamo Kiev (Ukraine)
Sporting Lisbon (Portugal)
PSV Eindhoven (Holland)
Eintracht Frankfurt (Germany)
Standard Liege (Belgium)
GROUP G Porto (Portugal)
Young Boys (Switzerland)
CSKA Moscow (Russia)
Borussia Monchengladbach (Germany)
Istanbul Basaksehir (Turkey)
Wolverhampton Wanderers (England)
Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia)
Manchester United (England)
Partizan Belgrade (Serbia)
AZ Alkmaar (Holland)