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Crunch time in Champions League qualifying

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Crunch time in Champions League qualifying

Postby FCBayernNews » Sat Jul 16, 2011 6:40 pm

In exactly a month, on 16 or 17 August, Bayern will contest the first leg of their Champions League qualifying play-off, with the return just a week later on 23 or 24 August. The final details of the fixture will not be determined until after the draw at UEFA's Nyon headquarters in Switzerland on 5 August, the point at which Bayern will also learn the identity of the team lying between themselves and the group stage.

"It could be a tough one," FCB President Uli Hoeneß warned at the end of last season, once FCB had finally sealed third spot in the Bundesliga and a place in the Champions League eliminators. "Looking at the teams we could face, we can take nothing for granted," added director of sport Christian Nerlinger.

Twente, Udinese or Kyiv?

Bayern's bid to become one of the 32 teams in the competition proper follows the so-called League Route, with 15 non-champions chasing five berths in the group stage over two rounds of matches. The clubs from the national associations lying first to fifth in the UEFA coefficient ranking enter the qualifying competition at the second or play-off stage. Apart from Bayern, these are Arsenal, Olympique Lyon, Villarreal and Udinese Calcio.

The remaining ten teams - the team which came third in the sixth-best association's league and the runners-up in the associations from seventh to 15th place - meet in two-legged fixtures on 26 or 27 July and 2 or 3 August, to determine the five teams going into the draw on 5 August along with Bayern and Co. This round was drawn in Nyon last Friday, producing the following fixtures:

Standard Liege (BEL) - FC Zurich (SUI)
Twente Enschede (NED) - FC Vaslui (ROU)
Benfica (POR) - Trabzonspor (TUR)
Dynamo Kyiv (UKR) - Rubin Kazan (RUS)
Odense BK (DEN) - Panathinaikos (GRE)

For the draw on 5 August, club rather than national coefficients determine the seedings. Apart from Bayern, who boast comfortably the best coefficient of all the teams involved in qualifying, the seeds will be Arsenal, Lyon, Villarreal and - provided they overcome Trabzonspor - Lisbon giants Benfica.

Should Benfica stumble, the clubs with the next-best coefficients are Dynamo Kyiv, Athens outfit Panathinaikos and Dutch runners-up Twente, none of whom could face FCB should they be seeded. On the other hand, Udine's relatively poor coefficient means they are guaranteed to be one of Bayern's potential opponents. In the past, FCB played and overcame FK Obilic (1998/99) and Partizan Belgrade (2002/03) at the final qualifying hurdle for Europe's elite club competition.
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