x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

AC Milan draw Portsmouth in Uefa Cup

AC Milan face Portsmouth in the next phase of the Uefa Cup, Tottenham are drawn in a tough group with Udinese and Manchester City face FC Twente.

The former Turkey footballer and ambassador to this season's final in Istanbul, Can Bartu, poses with the Uefa Cup after the draw for the group phase.
The former Turkey footballer and ambassador to this season's final in Istanbul, Can Bartu, poses with the Uefa Cup after the draw for the group phase.

NYON, SWITZERLAND // AC Milan will face the English FA Cup holders Portsmouth in the next phase of the Uefa Cup, while Tottenham have been drawn in a tough group with the joint leaders of Serie A Udinese and Manchester City will face the former England boss Steve McClaren's FC Twente. The seven-time European Cup winners Milan have never won the Uefa Cup, viewed more as the Champions League's little sister, while Portsmouth are playing in European competition for the first time in their history.

"It is a good group all the way round," the Portsmouth chief executive Peter Storrie said. "But we will enjoy it and I am sure our fans will pinch themselves thinking Portsmouth Football Club are going to play AC Milan in European competition." Heerenveen, Braga and Wolfsburg are also in Group E, which kicks off Oct 23. Three teams from each group will advance to the knockout stages. Group A contains Schalke, Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City, Racing Santander and FC Twente, one of five Dutch teams still in the competition.

That means the former England coach Steve McClaren, who led Middlesbrough to the Uefa Cup final in 2006, will get the chance to pit his wits against English opposition in the guise of Man City. "With the amount of signings that Manchester City have made and the progress they have made as a football club they are now massive and expected to do very will this season with the likes of Robinho and Jo," McClaren said. "It's a fantastic draw for the football club, for the fans, for the players. FC Twente have not been in Europe that often and already we've played Arsenal and Rennes."

Spurs have endured their worst start in English football since 1912 under coach Juande Ramos, who led Sevilla to back-to-back Uefa Cup titles before he moved to White Hart Lane last year. Besides Udinese, the Premier League's bottom club will face Spartak Moscow, Dinamo Zagreb and NEC Nijmegen in Group D. Sevilla are lumped in a tough group with Stuttgart, Sampdoria, Partizan Belgrade and Standard Liege, who beat Everton in the previous round.

The Greek champions Olympiakos face Turkey's Galatasaray in what could be a security problem because of the two nation's traditional rivalry. Also in Group B are Benfica, Hertha Berlin and Metalist Kharkiv of Ukraine. Another tough group pairs Hamburg and Ajax with Sparta Prague, Aston Villa and MSK Zilina of Slovakia. Valencia, one of four Spanish survivors, face FC Brugge, Rosenborg, FC Copenhagen and Saint-Etienne. Deportivo La Coruna are grouped with CSKA Moscow, Feyenoord, Nancy and Lech Poznan. The Uefa Cup final will be played on May 20 in Istanbul, Turkey. *AP

Group A Schalke 04 Paris St Germain Manchester City Racing Santander FC Twente Group B Benfica Olympiakos Galatasaray Hertha Berlin Metalist Kharkiv Group C Sevilla Stuttgart Sampdoria Partizan Belgrade Standard Liege Group D Tottenham Spartak Moscow Udinese Dinamo Zagreb NEC Nijmegen Group E AC Milan Heerenveen SC Braga Portsmouth Vfl Wolfsburg Group F Hamburg Ajax Slavia Prague Aston Villa MSK Zilina Group G Valencia Club Brugge Rosenborg FC Copenhagen Saint-Etienne Group H CSKA Moscow Deportiva La Coruna Feyenoord Nancy Lech Poznan