NYON - Bayern Munich, whose
Allianz Arena will stage this year's Champions League final,
breathed a sigh of relief when they were drawn against modest FC
Zurich in the final qualifying round on Friday.
Arsenal will face Serie A outfit Udinese, a draw which looks
tough on paper but may not be so tricky in reality against a
club who have sold their two most important players and will not
have played a competitive match beforehand.
Four-times European champions Bayern and Arsenal were spared
the long trip to Russia to face Rubin Kazan, a task which fell
to France's Olympique Lyon.
Former European champions Benfica must play Twente Enschede
and Spain's Villarreal were pitted against Odense of Denmark in
the so-called "league" side of the draw, featuring non-champions
from Europe's strongest domestic championships.
"That is an achievable and interesting task," Bayern coach
Jupp Heynckes told the Bavarian club's website. We have an excellent chance to qualify
for the group stage. Avoiding Rubin meant we will not have any
complicated travelling to do."
Bayern were plunged into the qualifying stage when they
could finish only third in the Bundesliga last season, a
performance which cost Louis van Gaal his job as coach.
Failing to qualify for the group stage would be unthinkable
for Germany's biggest club, especially in a year when they are
hosting the final.
FC Zurich, who beat AC Milan 1-0 away in a group stage match
two years ago, beat Standard Liege in the third qualifying round
but have made a terrible start to the Swiss League, losing all
three games so far.
Udinese general manager Franco Collavini did not appear to
hold much hope of preventing Arsenal reaching the group stage
for the 15th consecutive season and said his team were
concentrating on their Serie A debut on August 28.
"It's a very difficult match against one of the most
important clubs in Europe," said Collavini, whose club have sold
winger Alexis Sanchez to Barcelona and midfielder Gokhan Inler
"We are working to complete our squad for the end of August.
It's important to have the opportunity to play a club like
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger will not be in the dugout for
the first leg after his outburst in their last 16 defeat by
Barcelona last season resulted in a one-match ban.
The first legs will be played on August 16/17 with the
returns one week later.
Of the sides to won their domestic championships FC
Copenhagen, who last year reached the last 16, were drawn
against Viktoria Plzen from the Czech Republic while former
European Cup runners-up Malmo will play Croatia's Dinamo Zagreb,
who last qualified in 1999/00.
Five places are reserved for the champions from lower-ranked
nations in the group stage.
League play-off draw made on Friday:
Wisla Krakow (Poland) v APOEL (Cyprus)
Maccabi Haifa (Israel) v Genk (Belgium)
Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia) v Malmo (Sweden)
FC Copenhagen (Denmark) v Viktoria Plzen (Czech Rep)
BATE Borisov (Belarus) v Sturm Graz (Austria)
Odense (Denmark) v Villarreal (Spain)
Twente (Netherlands) v Benfica (Portugal)
Arsenal (England) v Udinese (Italy)
Bayern Munich (Germany) v FC Zurich (Switzerland)
Olympique Lyon (France) v Rubin Kazan (Russia)
The play-offs are played over two legs on August 16-17 and August
Borussia Dortmund's Mario Gotze ruled out of Champions League final against Bayern Munich
Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini will leave the La Liga club at the end of the current season
Stoke City and manager Tony Pulis part company by mutual agreement after seven years
Andy Carroll pulls out of England's friendly internationals against Ireland and Brazil
Ten years on, the legends speak to FFT
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
He's here, he's there, he's...
The cost of Premier League away travel
Nike CR7 IX for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010