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Frankfurt, Freiburg draw Europa League opponents

At a ceremony in Monaco, UEFA has held the draw for the group stage of the Europa League. After Stuttgart crashed out of qualifying, Frankfurt and Freiburg are the only German teams left.

In the draw on Friday, Bundesliga sides Eintracht Frankfurt and SC Freiburg both landed in manageable groups that will give each a fighting chance at advancing in the Europa League.

Freiburg was drawn first between the two German sides and landed in Group H with Spanish side Sevilla. Portugal's Estoril and Liberec from the Czech Republic rounded out Freiburg's group.

"It's surely a great help that we don't have to travel so far," said Freiburg's coach, Christian Streich. "We're going to get started right away at the weekend and start checking out the other teams. The goal is to play well on Thursday and give the fans a reason to celebrate."

French Cup winners Bordeaux and the Cypriot champions, APOEL Nicosia, were already a part of Group F when Frankfurt was drawn, and Israeli champs Maccabi Tel Aviv were the final team.

"All four teams are at about the same level," said Frankfurt's CEO, Heribert Bruchhagen, of his club's group draw. "There are no favorites and no underdogs. I expect a very balanced group. I'm excited for our fans and for our organization."

The first group stage matches are on September 19. Freiburg are scheduled to play at home against Liberec, while Frankfurt will host Bordeaux. The Europa League final is in Turin on May 14, 2014.

The 2013-14 Europa League groups:

Group A:
Valencia (Spain), Swansea (England), Kuban Krasnodar (Russia), Saint Gallen (Switzerland)

Group B:
PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands), Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia), Chornomorets Odesa (Ukraine), Ludogorets Razgrad (Bulgaria)

Group C:
Standard Liege (Belgium), Salzburg (Austria), Elfsborg (Sweden), Esbjerg (Denmark)

Group D:
Rubin Kazan (Russia), Wigan Athletic (England), Maribor (Slovenia), Zulte Waregem (Belgium)

Group E:
Fiorentina (Italy), Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk (Ukraine), Pacos Ferreira (Portugal), Pandurii Targu Jiu (Romania)

Group F:
Bordeaux (France), APOEL Nicosia (Cyprus), Eintracht Frankfurt (Germany), Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel)

Group G:
Dynamo Kyiv (Ukraine), Genk (Belgium), Rapid Vienna (Austria), Thun (Switzerland)

Group H:
Sevilla (Spain), Freiburg (Germany), Estoril (Portugal), Slovan Liberec (Czech Republic)

Group I:
Lyon (France), Real Betis (Spain), Vitoria (Portugal), Rijeka (Croatia)

Group J:
Lazio (Italy), Trabzonspor (Turkey), Legia Warsaw (Poland), Apollon Limassol (Cyprus)

Group K:
Tottenham Hotspur (England), Anzhi Makhachkala (Russia), Sheriff (Moldova), Tromso (Norway)

Group L:
AZ Alkmaar (Netherlands), PAOK Thessaloniki (Greece), Maccabi Haifa (Israel), Shakhter Karagandy (Kazakhstan)

mz/kms (AP, SID, dpa)

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