Başakşehir to clash Sevilla in Champions League playoffs
AP photoIstanbul club Başakşehir was pitted against Spain’s Sevilla in the Champions League playoff stage in a draw on Aug. 4.
Başakşehir, the runner-up in the Spor Toto Super League last season, will play the first game on Aug. 15 or 16 in Istanbul, while the return leg in Sevilla is scheduled for the following week.
Başakşehir, which boasts the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor and Gael Clichy in it ranks, eliminated Club Brugge in the third qualifying round.
Sevilla sporting director Oscar Arias said no one at the club should be fooled by the fact Başakşehir is relatively unknown on the European stage.
“They are definitely the least well known team in the draw but they had a great season, they finished above teams such as Galatasaray and Fenerbahçe and only lost three games,” he said.
“They have a squad of experienced players like Adebayor and they’ll be a difficult team to face, particularly away from home. However, we believe we’ll be capable of playing our game and getting through, which is very important to us.”
Fenerbahçe, meanwhile, will clash Macedonia’s Vardar for a spot in the Europa League group stage, with the firt leg scheduled for Aug. 17 in Macedonia and the second leg in Istanbul on Aug. 24.
Also in the Champions League, Liverpool must come through a tough two-legged play-off tie against Hoffenheim if it is to return to the group stage of the Champions League after a three-year absence.
Jürgen Klopp will take his Liverpool team back to his native Germany for the first leg.
Hoffenheim, whose Rhein Neckar Arena is in Sinsheim in south-west Germany, is in the Champions League for the first time in its history after finishing fourth in the Bundesliga last season.
The club’s coach Julian Nagelsmann, who turned 30 last month, is one of the most highly-rated young trainers in the game.
Napoli, which came third in Serie A last season, was handed a difficult draw against Nice, third in France’s Ligue 1 and victor against Ajax in the third qualifying round.
Scottish giant Celtic, who were in the section of the draw reserved for domestic champions, must once again beat Astana of Kazakhstan if it is to return to the group phase.