Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of the Champions League and Europa League play-off draws.
Yes, it’s still early August and supposedly still the height of summer (though the rain clouds outside Mirror Towers would suggest otherwise) but it’s time to get back to the serious business of football.
Arsenal scraping into fourth place last season means Arsene Wenger and co will be waiting with baited breath to see who stands between them and a place in the Champions League proper.
North of the border, Neil Lennon’s Celtic are also in the draw, after they beat Swedish side Elfsborg to reach this round.
Stay with us as we chart the draw as it happens. It is slated to begin at 10.45am with the Europa League play-off draw following that.
So who could Arsenal be paired with?
Well, the draw features 20 teams: ten champions (including Basel and Celtic) and ten sides who qualified thanks to their league position. The latter group features Arsenal as well as Milan, Lyon, Schalke and Zenit St Petersburg.
Arsenal are seeded for the draw, meaning they will face one of five sides: PSV Eindhoven, Fenerbahce, Metalist Kharkiv, Real Sociedad and Paços de Ferreira on either August 20 or 21 and the following week.
will be keen to avoid Fenerbahce, whose squad includes former Premier League players Raul Meireles, Dirk Kuyt and Joseph Yobo. PSV can count on a number of exciting young attackers and would also pose a significant threat.
Metalist are the dark horses of the draw, having impressed in the Europa League in recent years, while Sociedad will be keen to impress after qualifying for Europe for the first time in a decade.
The preferred draw for is likely to be Paços, a modest regional side who snuck into the competition after finishing third in Portugal.
Meanwhile Celtic’s opponents could be any of:
Legia WarsawAustria ViennaMariborLudogoretsShakhter Karagandy
And if you’ve heard of all of those sides, then kudos to you.
The Scottish champions will be hoping to reach the group stage for the second time in two years – and get the chance to repeat their heroics of last season when they shocked the mighty Barcelona, beating them 2-1 at Celtic Park.
As we wait for the draw to start, we’ll give you a quick update on what else is going on this morning.
Strutting Chelsea chief Jose Mourinho is plotting a third bid for moping Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney, according to reports in this morning’s paper.
in our paper talk round-up here.
To keep up with all the latest transfer news as it breaks, why not keep our transfer news live blog open in a little corner on your screen? You know – small enough so your boss won’t see if he walks past your computer.
Or if the thwack of leather on wood is more your thing, – assuming the heavy, dark clouds over Durham don’t delay the start of play.
Right, the waffle has started at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, so we’re getting closer.
They are now showing some highlights of last season’s final, which seems like it was only a few days ago.
Lots of shots of shouting Germans at Wembley, and there’s Klopp! Poor old Jurgen, ’twas not to be his day.
Now here’s UEFA suit Giorgio Marchetti to explain the ludicrously complicated technical procedure of the draw.
He’s reminding all the teams present they won’t have to organise their own matches as UEFA will kindly do all that for them. What loves.
He’s now explaining the seeding system. He reckons it’s very simple and very clear. Here we go…
First out of the hat: GNK Dimano (Croatia) and they will face Austria Vienna.
Next up: Ludogorets Razgrad (BUL) will play FC Basel.
FC Viktoria Plzen (Czech) will play NK Maribor.
Shakhter Karagandy of Kazakhstan, will play Celtic FC!
Steaua Buchurest will play Legia Warsaw.
That completes the ‘Champions Route’ part of the draw and now they will move on to the ‘League Route’ part.
So we will now discover who Arsenal will face. Stand by…
The first balls are out.
Olympique Lyonnais (Or Lyon, as we call them) will play Real Sociedad.
Germany’s FC Schalke will face Ukraine side Metalist Kharkiv.
FC Paços de Ferreira of Portugal will play Zenit St Petersburg.
PSV Eindhoven, who won in 1988 will face AC Milan.
So that means Arsenal have got Fenerbahce, a tricky tie for the Gunners there.
And, as the saying goes, that concludes the draw for the Champions League play-off round.
The matches will be played on the 20th/21st and the 27th/28th of August.
So probably not the draw Arsene Wenger was hoping for there. Fenerbahce will be a tough nut to crack. They have a few familiar names in their ranks who you will recognise from their Premier League days.
Joseph Yobo, formely of Everton marshals their defence, while ex-Liverpool man Dirk Kuyt plays up front.
Another former Liverpool man, who also played for Chelsea, Raul Meireles is one of their midfield dynamos.
So here’s the full draw:
Dinamo Zagreb v FK Austria ViennaLudogorets v BaslePlzen v MariborShakhtyor Karaganda v CelticSteaua Bucuresti v Legia WarsawLyon v Real SociedadSchalke 04 v FC Metalist KharkivPacos Ferreira v Zenit St PetersburgPSV v AC MilanFenerbahce v Arsenal
Or, if you prefer, in picture form:
We’ll bring you some reaction on that Arsenal tie as soon as we have it, and join us on the hour for the Europa League play-off draw.
Swansea and Tottenham will find out who they have to defeat to make the group stages.
Michael Laudrup’s boys beat Malmo 4-0 on aggregate to reach this stage, while Spurs qualified directly for this round by virtue of finishing fifth in the Premier League.
Just a quick note on that Arsenal tie, Fenerbahce are awaiting a final ruling from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) over whether they will be allowed to go actually go into the competition proper this season, having been banned from competing in Europe by UEFA for match-fixing in domestic competition.
They have challenged that ruling and a CAS verdict is due before the group stage draw is made, but home and away matches against Arsenal stand to go ahead before that decision arrives.
UEFA today said no decision has yet been made regarding what would happen in the event of Fenerbahce winning the tie and losing theirCAS appeal.
Fenerbahce finished second in the Turkish Super Lig last season.
Rght, let’s get this second draw underway.
Mr Bald Man is chuntering away in Nyon, so let’s see who is in the draw today.
Group 1 Seeded: APOEL FC (CYP), SC Braga (POR), Be?ikta? JK (TUR)*, SK Rapid Wien (AUT), Feyenoord (NED)Unseeded: FC Kuban Krasnodar (RUS), Tromsø IL (NOR), SV Zulte Waregem (BEL), CS Pandurii Târgu Jiu (ROU), FC Dila Gori (GEO)
* Be?ikta? JK’s participation in the competition is subject to CAS proceedings.
Group 2 Seeded: FC Dynamo Kyiv (UKR), KRC Genk (BEL), AZ Alkmaar (NED), Swansea City AFC (ENG), OGC Nice (FRA) Unseeded: Apollon Limassol FC (CYP), Atromitos FC (GRE), FC Aktobe (KAZ), FH Hafnarfjördur (ISL), FC Petrolul Ploie?ti (ROU)
Group 3 Seeded: Sevilla FC (ESP), R. Standard de Liège (BEL), Eintracht Frankfurt (GER), FC Salzburg (AUT), FC Nordsjælland (DEN)Unseeded: IF Elfsborg (SWE), Qaraba? FK (AZE), WKS ?l?sk Wroc?aw (POL), FC Minsk (BLR), VMFD Žalgiris (LTU)
Group 4 Seeded: VfB Stuttgart (GER), FC Spartak Moskva (RUS), PAOK FC (GRE), FC Chornomorets Odesa (UKR), Real Betis Balompié (ESP)Unseeded: FK Jablonec (CZE), Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC (ISR), HNK Rijeka (CRO), FC St Gallen (SUI), KS Skënderbeu (ALB)
Group 5 Seeded: FC Sheriff (MDA), ACF Fiorentina (ITA), AS Saint-Étienne (FRA), Trabzonspor A? (TUR), FC Rubin Kazan (RUS)Unseeded: Molde FK (NOR), Esbjerg fB (DEN), FK Vojvodina (SRB), Grasshopper Club Zürich (SUI), FK Kukësi (ALB)
Group 6 Seeded:Udinese Calcio (ITA), Tottenham Hotspur FC (ENG), FK Partizan (SRB), FCDnipro Dnipropetrovsk (UKR), Estoril Praia (POR), Maccabi Haifa FC (ISR)Unseeded: JK Nõmme Kalju (EST), FC Thun (SUI), FC Pasching (AUT), FC Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO), FC Astra (ROU), FC Slovan Liberec (CZE).
They’re showing highlights of Chelsea’s win over Benfica in last season’s final now.
Obviously Chelsea aren’t in it this season (at least not yet), but fellow Londoners Tottenham are, along with Welsh wizards Swansea.
UEFA suit Giorgio Marchetti is back to waffle on about the rules of the draw. The representatives from all the clubs look enthralled.
The balls are in the bowl and we are underway!
They are doing the draw in batches so we’ll bring you the full draw as soon as we can type it, but we’ll bring you Spurs and Swansea’s oppo straight away.
And Swansea are out of the hat, they will play FC Petrolul Ploiesti of Romania. (Us neither).
We’re now into the team-by team draw, so stand by for Tottenham’s opponents.
Tottenham have been drawn against FC Dinamo Tbilisi of Georgia.
Not a bad draw for Spurs, and certainly a tad easier than Arsenal’s Champions League draw with Fenerbahce.
So we’ll bring you the full draw in a moment, but the headlines are: And Swansea will play FC Petrolul Ploiesti of Romania and Tottenham have been drawn with FC Dinamo Tbilisi of Georgia.
Both have that feel of classic early round ties against obscure opposition in the far flung reaches of Europe.
The matches will be played on August 22nd and 29th.
So here, as promised is the full draw:
Kuban Krasnodar v FeyenoordZulte Waregem v Apoel NicosiaRapid Vienna v Dila GoriPandurii Targu-Jiu v BragaTromso v BesiktasApollon Limassol v NiceAktobe v Dynamo KievSwansea v Petrolul PloiestiAtromitos v AZFH Hafnarfjordur v GenkIF Elfsborg v FC NordsjaellandSlask Wroclaw v SevillaSV Red Bull Salzburg v VMFD ZalgirisFK Karabakh v Eintracht FrankfurtMinsk v Standard LiegeJablonec v Real BetisRijeka v VfB StuttgartChornomorets v SkenderbeuMaccabi Tel-Aviv v PAOK SalonikaSt Gallen v Spartak MoscowMolde v Rubin KazanVojvodina v FC SheriffTrabzonspor v FK KukesiEsbjerg v Saint EtienneGrasshoppers v FiorentinaMaccabi Haifa v FC Astra GiurgiuUdinese v Slovan LiberecDinamo Tbilisi v SpursEstoril Praia v FC PaschingNomme Kalju v DniproPartizan Belgrade v FC ThunTies to be played 22 and 29 August.12:34 pm
And that concludes the draw for us here on the live blog.
It’s now back to business as usual for us on the site, which means keeping a watching brief on all the transfer sagas currently playing out.
Will Luis Suarez engineer his way out of Liverpool? Will Gareth Bale seal his move to Madrid? And what of Wayne Rooney?
Keep up with all latest on all these stories and more in our transfer news live blog.
Or if the thwack of leather on wood is more your thing,