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Champions League Play-Off Draw – A Look At Who We Could Face
With the draw for the Champions League play-off’s taking place this Friday, the 9th August, I thought I’d take a slightly premature look at who we could face in the crucial two-legged affair.
The third qualifying round will be completed tonight and there are certainly some teams we’d rather avoid. The draw will be split into two sections. The Champions section and the non-champions section. We will be in the non-champions section, for obvious reasons.
However, we WILL be a seeded team due to our excellent record in the competition over the past years, and this means we can not face another seeded team which thankfully rules out the likes of AC Milan and Schalke, while Zenit St Petersburg and Lyon will also be seeded teams should they progress tonight.
There will be five unseeded teams in the draw, so Arsenal will face one of the following sides (as confirmed on Arsenal.com):
- Real Sociedad
- Pacos de Ferreira
- Fenerbahce (subject to CAS ruling)
- PAOK Salonika/Metalist Kharkiv
- PSV Eindhoven/Zulte Waregem
Of the five, Pacos de Ferreira would be my dream draw. They’re a Portuguese team so would be just a short trip and they are arguably the weakest side we could realistically face.
Metalist Kharkiv are currently 2-0 up from the first leg against POAK so their firm favourites to progress and they would also be a good draw even though it would require a tricky trip to the Ukraine.
PSV Eindhoven are also in the driving seat after winning 2-0 at home in the first leg and while they could prove to be a sterm test, I’d be confident of beating the Dutch outfit over two legs if we drew them.
Fenerbache’s participation is under threat due to an on-going match-fixing scandal so they could still be expelled from the competition. But either way, we do not want to face a nightmare trip to Turkey, so these are certainly ones to be avoided.
However, the team that everyone is afraid of is Real Sociedad. Carlos Vela’s side sprung a surprise by finishing fourth in La Liga last season and they are a very dangerous outfit. If we get them, we’re going to be in for a tough ride, that’s for sure.
So there are two good draws, two nightmare draws and one in the middle. We’ll find out our fate this Friday and it would be a disaster if we were to crash out at this stage having worked so hard to snatch fourth spot last season. Here’s hoping for a favourable draw.
Who would you like to face in the draw?
this is confirmed on Arsenal.com.