Friday, August 3, 2007

Tough Draws for Arsenal and Liverpool


The Champions League third qualifying round draw has been released, with the winners of each tie advancing into the group stages of the biggest club tournament in the world.

The Premiership sends four teams to the Champions League each season. The winner and runner-up of the Premiership (this season, Manchester United and Chelsea respectively) goes automatically into the group stage, while the 3rd and 4th place teams (Liverpool and Arsenal) have to advance out of the third qualifying round.

Liverpool will meet French club Toulouse FC, who finished third in Ligue 1 last season. Toulouse have no players on their roster, except maybe Swedish striker Johan Elmander, who will stand out to you unless you're a fan of them or the LFP (Ligue 1 and 2), but this won't be an easy tie for Liverpool. Don't get me wrong, Liverpool will advance barring an upset of major proportions, but Toulouse will throw everything they have at a club that's been one of the best in Europe over the past few seasons and won the Champions League in 2004-2005.

Arsenal drew Czech club Sparta Prague, one of the most successful clubs in both Central and Eastern Europe. Sparta Prague won the Czech domestic league last season (Gambrinus Liga) and have been regular participants in the Champions League since 1997. Their entire roster is comprised of Czech players except for three individuals, two of whom are Slovak and the other is French. Like Liverpool, Arsenal will most likely progress into the group stages, but it won't be without a fight.

These ties and the others that make up the third qualifying round are scheduled August 14/15 and August 28/29. Specific dates for Arsenal and Liverpool haven't been determined yet, but when they're released I'll update this post with their confirmation as well as which team is home first.

For the full draw, see http://www.premierleague.com/page/Headlines/0,,12306~1084152,00.html

2 comments:

tyduffy said...

They are pretty tough draws and could be early season banana skins. But, honestly, if Arsenal and Liverpool can't beat those clubs, they have no business being in the Champions League in the first place.

MJ said...

Agreed, you're absolutely right. If you take a look at the full draw and see some of those teams that they could've played but no one's ever heard of, like BATE Borisov or FK Ventspils, Arsenal and Liverpool have tough games by comparison.