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Tough Europa draw gives Toffees plenty to chew on

EVERTON have been handed a difficult draw in the Europa League group stage after they were paired with Lille, Wolfsburg and Krasnodar on Friday.

It’s almost as tough for the Toffees as it could have been as they face teams from three of Europe’s strongest leagues – France, Germany and Russia – but bookmakers still expect Roberto Martinez’s side to get the job done. Everton are rated 15-8 favourites (bet365) to win the group, in front of 2-1 Wolfsburg.

The other British clubs competing in the tournament – Tottenham and Celtic – were handed more favourable draws. Spurs are 4-7 to win a group containing Besiktas, Partizan Belgrade and Greek side Asteras Tripoli, while Celtic are 4-1 to top a section containing tough Austrians Red Bull Salzburg (8-11), but softer opponents in Dinamo Zagreb and Astra Giurgiu.

Backing teams to win the tournament is a risky move at this point as the eight third-placed teams in the Champions League group stage will drop into the Europa League knockout phase.

In three of the last six years, the tournament has been won by a team who had earlier competed in the Champions League group stage, and eight of the last 14 finalists have entered Europe’s secondary competition by that route.

Those interested in taking a risk in the hope of getting some early value by getting stuck into a team on the outright now can back favourites joint-favourites Tottenham and Napoli at 16-1.

Inter come next in the betting at 18-1 while Seville and Fiorentina are 20-1. Coral have taken a negative stance on Everton’s prospects by offering 28-1, while Celtic are dismissed as 100-1 shots.