Once again, Napoli are in the wrong European draw. Instead of getting into the glitz and glamour of the Champions League, they get ... the leftovers. Some may think that's harsh to say of the Europa League, but let's face it, that's exactly what it is.
Now is not the time to focus on that, though. Now's the time for Napoli to find out who they'll be facing in the group stage of the Europa League. They'll play six matches against three teams, home and away, drawn from each of the three pots that Napoli aren't in. Looking at the full set of teams in the draw, it could go either very well for Napoli -- or very, very, very badly.
The rules are pretty straightforward: there are four pots that teams are drawn from to fill 12 groups. The groups are determined by drawing one team from each pot, with the restriction that no two teams from the same country can play each other. Which pot each team is in is determined by their UEFA coefficient. That is determined by each team's performance in European competitions over the past five years, with a bonus applied to their tally based on their country's performance in those same competitions.
Napoli's group stage matches will be played on September 17th, October 1st, October 22nd, November 5th, November 26th, and the last match will be on December 10th.
Pot 2 is two teams smaller than the others because it includes Fiorentina and Lazio, and no two teams from the same country can be drawn against each other at this stage of the competition.
APOEL FC (Cyprus), Lech Poznań (Germany), KF Skënderbeu (Albania)
This draw is an ideal combination of low travel and opponents that Napoli can take to the cleaners. APOEL aren't a bad team, but they're the clear weak link in their pot. Lech Poznań are the equivalent in their pot. Skënderbeu are a quick hop away from Naples across the Adriatic, and, well, they're not very good.
Liverpool (England), AS Monaco (France), FC Midtjylland (Denmark)
This draw would be a nightmare for Napoli, pitting them against three talented teams, two of which are not particularly close to Naples. Liverpool were bad last season, but they look to be a reinvigorated and much-improved. AS Monaco were a Champions League quarterfinalist a year ago, and while they've taken some shots this summer, they're still a very, very good team. Midtjylland are both a long damn ways away and a sorely underrated side -- they may have screwed up against APOEL in Champions League qualifying, but they also beat a very good Southampton side to reach the Europa League group stage.
Draw location: Monaco, France
Draw time: 8 a.m. ET, 1 p.m. local
How to watch: You can follow the draw live on UEFA.com.