After three qualifying rounds and the sieving away of several other European clubs, qualification for this year’s Champions League and the Europa League is now down to just a handful of teams. This year’s play-offs will feature 64 teams (20 in the Champions League and the remaining 44 in the Europa League).
For some of the teams, it’s been quite the summer as they’ve had to deal with games since the first qualifying round. For some others, they’re just joining the race to qualify for European football. To add to that, there’s the minor case of some clubs having had more playing time than the other, no thanks to the schedule of the league they’re in.
Talk time is over and this week will see several clubs go against each other for a place in the group stages of Europe’s elite football competition. Let’s take a look at what the fixtures look like.
In the Champions League,
- Qarabag FK V FC Copenhagen
- 1899 Hoffenheim V Liverpool FC
- Apoel Nicosia FC V SK Slavia Prague
- Sporting CP V Fotbal Club Fcsb
- Young Boys Bern V CSKA Moscow
- Basaksehir FK V Sevilla FC
- Celtic FC V FC Astana
- Hapoel Beer Sheva V NK Maribor
- Olympiacos FC V HNK Rijeka
- SSC Napoli V OGC Nice
In the Europa League,
- Apollon Limassol FC V FC Midtjylland
- FC BATE Borisov V FC Oleksandria
- FC Krasnodar V FK Red Star Belgrade
- GNK Dinamo Zagreb V Skenderbeu Korce
- FH Hafnarfjordur V Sporting Braga
- PAOK FC V Ostersunds FK
- Vardar Skopje V Fenerbahce
- FC Viktoria Plzen V AEK Larnaca FC
- Ludogorets Razgrad V FK Suduva Marijampole
- Panathinaikos Athens V Athletic Bilbao
- SCR Altach V Maccabi Tel Aviv
- AC Milan V Shkendija 79 Tetovo
- Ajax Amsterdam V Rosenborg BK
- Club Brugge V AEK Athens FC
- FC Viitorul Constanta V RB Salzburg
- Legia Warsaw V FC Sheriff Tiraspol
- NK Domzale V Olympique Marseille
- NK Osijek V FK Austria Vienna
- Partizan Belgrade V Videoton FC
- Everton FC V HNK Hajduk Split
- CS Maritimo Madeira V FC Dynamo Kiev
The first legs take place this week while the return legs will follow next week. Looking through the fixtures, it’s not hard to pick out the standout games. Of course, with qualification at stake – and the kind of money involved – all these games offer top notch action.
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But looking closely, the 1899 Hoffenheim vs. Liverpool FC game and the SSC Napoli vs. OGC Nice game are two games to look out for in the Champions League play-offs. Featuring heavyweights like Mario Balotelli, Marek Hamsik, Firmino, and the reigning Bundesliga coach of the year, it’s hard to look past these two games.
On the other side of the play-off coin, eyes will be on AC Milan – for the spending – and Everton – for the Ronald Koeman project. Names like Bonucci and Wayne Rooney will be featuring for the new clubs and the world will be looking to see how they fare.
The ultimate aim for all these clubs is to qualify for the group stages of either the Champions League or the Europa League. Which of these clubs do you think will make it through? Leave us a comment and let’s know what you think.Tags: champions league, europa league, uefa playoffs