Saturday 11 August 2012
Last Update 11 August 2012 10:07 am
BERNE: Troubled Malaga will have to beat Champions League regulars Panathinaikos if they are to reach the group stage for the first time following yesterday’s playoff round draw at UEFA headquarters, adding to the Spanish side’s pre-season headaches.
Borussia Moenchengladbach, also hoping to qualify for the first time, have been paired with Ukraine’s Dynamo Kiev, who have reached the semi-finals three times.
The first legs take place on Aug 21/22 with the returns a week later.
Italy’s Udinese, beaten by Arsenal at the same stage last season, will face Braga of Portugal. Defeat would leave Italy with only two teams in the group stage.
Malaga finished fourth in La Liga last season but their outlook is uncertain after they announced “internal restructuring” amid reports that Qatari owner Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nassar Al-Thani wants to sell up after only two years.
In the last week, midfielder Santi Cazorla has joined Arsenal while Venezuela forward Salomon Rondon has moved to Russia’s Rubin Kazan. Their Greek opponents will be attempting to reach the group stage for the 10th time.
In other ties, Spartak Moscow will face Fenerbahce, who were excluded from the competition last season over a Turkish match-fixing scandal, and Lille will meet FC Copenhagen.
Cypriot champions AEL Limassol, hoping to emulate compatriots APOEL Nicosia who reached the quarterfinals last season, must first beat Belgian champions Anderlecht.
Celtic, the only former European champions among the teams in yesterday’s draw, were pitted against Swedish champions Helsingborg.
There is no English side in the playoffs because Chelsea won the Champions League last term and therefore go straight into the group stage despite having finished outside the Premier League’s top four.
Basel (Switzerland) v CFR Cluj (Romania)
Helsingborgs (Sweden) v Celtic (Scotland)
BATE Borisov (Belarus) v Hapoel Kiryat Shmona (Israel)
Limassol (Cyprus) v Anderlecht (Belgium)
Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia) v Maribor (Slovenia)
Braga (Portugal) v Udinese (Italy)
Spartak Moscow (Russia) v Fenerbahce (Turkey)
Malaga (Spain) v Panathinaikos (Greece)
Borussia Moenchengladbach (Germany) v Dynamo Kiev (Ukraine)
Lille (France) v FC Copenhagen (Denmark)
Liverpool to meet Hearts in Europa League
Liverpool can look forward to a Battle of Britain showdown against Scottish club Hearts in the play-off round of the Europa League after the draw was made in Nyon, Switzerland yesterday.
The Premier League club beat Gomel of Belarus 3-0 at Anfield on Thursday to secure a 4-0 aggregate success that set up the clash with the Scottish Cup holders.
Hearts will be hoping to do better than the last time they faced English opposition in European competition — last season, the Edinburgh outfit lost 5-0 on aggregate to Tottenham Hotspur at the same stage of the competition.
Newcastle United have been drawn to face last season’s Greek Cup runners-up Atromitos, with the first legs to be played on August 23 and the return on August 30.
Motherwell, who lost to Panathinaikos of Greece 5-0 on aggregate in the Champions League third qualifying round, have been drawn against Spanish club Levante, for whom it will be a first ever European tie. In other ties, last season’s runners-up Athletic Bilbao will meet HJK Helsinki, who were beaten by Celtic in the Champions League third qualifying round.
While Inter Milan will face Vaslui of Romania.
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