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Former European champions Ajax and Marseille in Europa League group with Brighton and AEK Athens

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Former European champions Ajax and Marseille were drawn Friday to play Premier League club Brighton and AEK Athens in one of the toughest Europa League groups.

Brighton will be playing in the competition for the first time.

Ajax won the UEFA Cup, the Europa League’s predecessor, in 1992 to become the first club to win the three major European trophies of the time.

Liverpool, a three-time winner of the second-tier European competition, was drawn to face Union Saint-Gilloise, Toulouse and LASK of Austria, while Europa Conference League champion West Ham will play Olympiakos, Freiburg and TSC of Serbia.

Roma, coached by Jose Mourinho, will be trying to reach its third straight European final in a group with Slavia Prague, Sheriff and Servette, while 2021 Europa League champion Villarreal landed in a group with Rennes, Maccabi Haifa and Panathinaikos.

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The other groups are: Bayer Leverkusen, Qarabag, Molde and Hacken; Atalanta, Sporting Lisbon, Sturm Graz and Rakow Czestochowa; and Rangers, Real Betis, Sparta Prague and Aris Limassol.

The group games will start on Sept. 21 and finish on Dec. 14. The knockout rounds are scheduled to begin in February with the final on May 22 in Dublin, Ireland.

While the 32 Champions League clubs share 2 billion euros ($2.17 million) in UEFA prize money, the fund for Europa League clubs is 465 million euros ($504 million).



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