MADRID, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- The draw for the preliminary rounds of the Champions League and the Europa League on Friday has given mixed fortunes for Spanish sides.
Athletic Club Bilbao, who finished fourth in the BBVA Primera Liga have been handed a tough tie against Italian side, Napoli, in order to reach the lucrative knockout stages of the competition.
The tie sees the Basques play a team containing Spanish players in Raul Albiol and Javier Callejon and coached by former Valencia and Liverpool boss, Rafael Benitez.
"It's a big game against a tough rival, but no side wanted to be drawn against us either," said Athletic Club President Josu Urrutia, who highlighted the fact that the return leg will be at home.
That will be the first competitive game to be played in Athletic's new San Mames Stadium after its completion this summer.
Last season saw Athletic play in front of a ground which was only three-quarters finished, but it will be at full 55,000 capacity for the Champions League and can be assured of also having to compete against an incredible atmosphere in San Mames after Urrutia added that the club's 44,000 members would get in free.
There was better luck for Real Sociedad and Villarreal in the play-off for the Europa League. Both of the Spanish outfits were among the seeded clubs in the draw and as a result avoided the tougher sides such as Inter Milan, Olympique Lyon, Tottenham Hotspurs or Hull City.
Nevertheless, although their games are against accessible rivals, both teams face long trips:
Real Sociedad's reward for knocking Aberdeen out of the last round 5-2 on aggregate is a visit to Turkish side 'Krasnodor', while Villarreal, who finished sixth in Spain last season in their first season back in the top flight after promotion from the second division have a tie which takes them to Kazakhstan, where they meet Astana.