Beşiktaş faces Feyenoord in Champions League qualifiers
AA PhotoBeşiktaş will face Feyenoord in the Champions League third qualifying round in a bid to become the second Turkish team in the competition.
The Black Eagles will visit the Dutch league runners-up in the first leg game to be played on July 29 or 30. The return leg will be played on Aug. 5 or 6 in Istanbul.
Beşiktaş’s Croatian coach Slaven Bilic sounded optimistic about the draw.
“We will play against a team who represents a school of football – a team that recently had five players at the FIFA World Cup [in Brazil] … They have a new coach [Fred Rutten] and one of their players [Bruno Martins Indi] left for Porto. I am definitely optimistic that we have a great chance of reaching the playoffs,” Bilic was quoted as saying on the UEFA website.
In the other ties, Greek Cyprus’ AEL Limassol is pitted against Russia’s Zenit Saint Petersburg, Ukraine’s Dnipro will meet Copenhagen of Denmark, the Swiss Grasshoppers will play against France’s Lille while Belgium’s Standard Liege will face Greece’s Panathinaikos.
The winners of those five ties will advance to the 10-team playoff stage, where they will face the teams that have been seeded: Arsenal, Porto, Bayer Leverkusen, Napoli and Athletic Bilbao.
Beşiktaş, in the third spot in last year’s Süper Lig, was granted a spot in the Champions League qualifying rounds because of the qualification ban imposed on champions Fenerbahçe over the Turkish match-fixing case.
A similar situation happened with Kardemir Karabükspor and Bursaspor, seventh and eighth respectively, replaced Sivasspor and Eskişehirspor in the third qualifying round of the Europa League, who were both banned for match-fixing.
Bursaspor started the campaign with a goalless draw against Chikhura Sachkhere on July 17 and the tie will be completed with next week’s game in Georgia. If the Crocs survive the tie, they will face the winner of the match between Azerbaijan’s Neftçi Bakü and Slovenia’s Koper.
Karabükspor will wait for the winner of the second round tie between Norway’s Rosenborg and Ireland’s Sligo Rovers.
The third qualifying round games will be played on July 31 and Aug. 7.
Meanwhile, UEFA announced on July 17 that no Champions League or Europa League matches would be played in Israel for security reasons.
“The UEFA Emergency Panel met on July 16 and decided that, due to the current security situation in Israel, no UEFA competition matches may be played in the country until further notice … Consequently, the Israeli clubs involved in forthcoming fixtures have been requested to propose alternative venues outside of Israel’s territory for their home legs for the 2014/15 UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League,” read a statement issued by UEFA.