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FCB's potential Champions League opponents

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FCB's potential Champions League opponents

Postby FCBayernNews » Thu Aug 04, 2011 7:50 pm

The roster of potential opponents for Bayern in the Champions League qualifying play-offs is now complete. One of five clubs - Twente, Odense, FC Zurich, Rubin Kazan or Udinese - will follow in the footsteps of FK Obilic and Partizan Belgrade, Munich's previous foes at this stage of Europe's elite club competition. Ahead of Friday's draw at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, profiles the five candidate clubs.

Twente Enschede
The Dutch runners-up contested last season's Champions League, and remained undefeated in home meetings with Inter Milan, Werder Bremen and Tottenham Hotspur. They knocked out Bremen with a win away to the Bundesliga side, and ultimately finished third in their section, earning a place in the Europa League. Twente's best-known players are striker Bryan Ruiz from Costa Rica, Austrian goal-getter Marc Janko, and veteran Denny Landzaat. The club on the Dutch-German border has produced many well-regarded players down the years, including Eljero Elia (currently of Hamburger SV), Marko Arnautovic (Werder) and former FCB man Edson Braafheid (now with Hoffenheim). Twente and Bayern have met twice in the past. FCB won both legs of a 1993/94 UEFA Cup first-round tie, starting out with a 4-3 victory in Enschede (where Christian Nerlinger scored the first goal), and completing the job with a comfortable 3-0 triumph in Munich.

Odense made it into the Champions League eliminators by finishing runners-up in the Danish championship. The club from Denmark's third-largest city proceeded to spring a major surprise by eliminating Greek favourites Panathinaikos: following a 1-1 draw in Denmark, Odense chalked up a thrilling 4-3 victory in Athens. As of January 2011, the Odense goal has been tended by former Bayern man Stefan Wessels, who made his debut on Europe's elite stage for FCB in Glasgow in a trip to face Rangers on 21 September 1999. Otherwise, the Danish side feature former Manchester United midfielder Eric Djemba-Djemba, and Nigeria international Peter Utaka. Odense, whose home ground is the 15,700 capacity TRE-FOR Park, currently lie fourth in their domestic championship with four games played.

FC Zürich
The Swiss runners-up, who made their maiden appearance in the Champions League in 2009/10, overcame Belgian outfit Standard Liege in the third qualifying round on a narrow 2-1 aggregate, starlet Admir Mehmedi scoring both FCZ's goals. However, the 12-time Swiss champions have made a dreadful start to the domestic league campaign with three straight defeats. The club's greatest international triumphs are practically ancient history, as they made the European Cup semi-finals back in 1964 and 1977. FCZ's best-known players are former Stuttgart stalwart Ludovic Magnin and Mathieu Beda, known to German fans from a spell with Kaiserslautern. Zurich's home ground is the legendary Letzigrund stadium, rebuilt in 2007 and boasting a capacity of 25,000.

Rubin Kazan
Should Bayern be drawn to face Rubin Kazan, it would probably entail the longest away trip in the club's history. Kazan is the capital of the Russian Republic of Tatarstan, and lies some 2,700 kilometres from Munich, but the journey would hardly rate as a pleasure trip, as Barcelona discovered for themselves in the last two seasons: mighty Barça only managed one win in four meetings with Rubin. The men from Kazan, who have never before faced Bayern, won back-to-back championships but could only finish third in the Russian Premier Liga last season. With more than half of the current campaign completed, Rubin lie fourth in the table. For Luiz Gustavo, a meeting with Los Kazan would also entail a reunion, as the midfielder's former Hoffenheim team-mate Carlos Eduardo currently plies his trade in Tatarstan. Kazan eliminated top Ukraine outfit Dynamo Kyiv 4-1 on aggregate in the third qualifying round.

Udinese Calcio
The Italians finished fourth in Serie A last term and qualify automatically for the Champions League play-offs. The club superstar is striker Antonio di Natale, who finished top scorer in Serie A on 28 goals, beating out the likes of Samuel Eto'o (Inter) and Zlatan Ibrahimovic (AC Milan). However, Udinese have lost a number of key players this summer, with Alexis Sanchez switching to Barcelona, and Gökhan Inler leaving for Napoli. Transfer receipts of some €50 million are as yet unspent. Germany team manager Oliver Bierhoff made his international breakthrough in an Udine shirt from 1995-1998, although Bayern and Udinese have never met in a competitive fixture.
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