The Champions League moves a step closer to the Group Stages this morning with the draw for the Play-Off Round, after what has already been something of an arduous qualifying process the so called big guns now enter proceedings while just two games away from reaching the promised land.
Liverpool are in the hat in a few hours time and are one of the five seeded clubs in the league route but just who exactly will their opposition be? Obviously we won’t know that until just before lunchtime but here are the five clubs they could be matched up with
Arguably the team they will want to avoid especially if former Red Mario Balotelli has anything to do with it, what price these two getting paired together and the Italian dumping his former club out of the competition. Also look out for Jean Seri who is being linked with a handful of Premier League clubs.
Champions League debutantes and they will want to make sure they do not crash out at the first hurdle, they could cause problems for Liverpool but Jurgen Klopp will at least have some experience of going head to head with this club. That said though it was a while back and things may have changed in this once sleepy German village
They knocked out Dynamo Kiev on away goals in the previous round, more impressively though was the fact that they came from behind after a first leg 3-1 defeat in which to do so. The caused Tottenham a lot of trouble at this stage back in 2010, could they cause Liverpool a headache
The Turkish side are also debutantes in the competition and like Hoffenheim they will be wanting to make sure they do not fall at the first. They got the better of Belgian side Club Brugge in the previous round, with an entertaining 3-3 draw in the first leg being followed by a win in the return on Wednesday
The 1986 European Cup winners are the last of the five unseeded teams in the draw, they are nowhere near the team that lifted the trophy 31 years ago but a trip to Eastern Europe is never one that is particularly welcomed especially so early in the season. It could be a potential banana skin in the making.
The other four seeded clubs in the League route are:
Celtic on the other hand are paired in the Champions Route of the draw and they are also a seeded club, just as the league route there are 5 seeded teams and 5 unseeded teams. The quintet of teams that Celtic could face are the following
Hapoel Be-er Sheva
In all fairness their fate is very much in their own hands as Brendan Rodgers’ men should be able to progress to the group stages regardless of who they are paired up against. One thing that is for certain is that they will not want to suffer an early season disappointment at this level.
While the other four seeded clubs in the Champions Route are
We will know the ten pairings just before lunchtime, the draw will be on a multitude of sporting websites but if you can’t watch it I’ll have it up on here also.