Beşiktaş to face Arsenal, Trabzon, Karabük handed tough draws
Beşiktaş won plaudits for dispatching Feyenoord in the Champions League third qualifying round 5-2 on aggregate. DHA PhotoThe Black Eagles of Beşiktaş will face a daunting task in their effort to qualify for the group stage of the Champions League for the first time in five seasons after they were paired with Arsenal in the competition’s playoff round. Trabzonspor and Kardemir Karabükspor were also given tough Europa League qualifier tasks.
Trabzonspor will face Russia’s FC Rostov and Kardemir Karabükspor, a first-timer in European competitions, will face Saint-Etienne of France. But still, the toughest task looks to be on Beşiktaş.
Beşiktaş won plaudits for dispatching Feyenoord in the Champions League third qualifying round 5-2 on aggregate, but the side will be hard-pressed to qualify for the group stage against the London outfit. Arsenal has also signaled its ambition this transfer window, bringing in France’s Mathieu Debuchy, Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina, as well as Alexis Sanchez, who starred for Chile at the World Cup.
To return to the top-tier European club competition for the first time after 2009. , Beşiktaş will rely on the talents of new signing Demba Ba, who scored a hat trick in the side’s second-leg, 3-1 win over Feyenoord earlier this week. The tie against Arsenal will provide a quick return for the Senegalese striker, who joined Beşiktaş earlier this summer after a spell at Arsenal’s London rivals Chelsea.
However, Beşiktaş is set to face the most difficult of five possible opponents, after it was pitted against Arsenal out of a group that also included Napoli, Bayer Leverkusen, Porto and Zenit St Petersburg.
“What a draw! already looking forward to the matches against @Besiktas! #Turkey #Istanbul #Arsenal #AFC #UCLdraw” tweeted Arsenal midfielder Mesut Özil a German player of Turkish roots.
Arsenal plans to overcome Beşiktaş to seal its 17th consecutive appearance in the Champions League group stages. The first game will be played at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul on Aug. 19, and the return game will be at the Emirates Stadium on Aug. 27.
Last season the Gunners saw off another Turkish club, Fenerbahçe, to go on to make it into the round of last 16 where Arsene Wenger’s 2006 runners-up came a cropper against Bayern Munich.
This is the north London giant’s first meeting with the Istanbul club, who finished third in the Turkish Super League last term and who counts former Gunner Oğuzhan Özyakup in their midst. Beşiktaş is managed by former West Ham and Everton defender, Slaven Bilic.
Other match-ups include Lille against 2004 European champions FC Porto, Napoli facing
Athletic Bilbao, Bayer Leverkusen playing FC Copenhagen, and the Andre Villas-Boas-coached Zenit St Petersburg meeting Standard Liege.
Celtic found out that it was set to meet Slovenian titleholder Maribor just minutes after being added to the draw. Polish club Legia Warsaw, who had dished out a 6-1 third qualifying mauling to Celtic, was ruled out and was demoted to the Europa League playoffs for fielding an ineligible player - Bartosz Bereszynski.
Legia was comfortably cruising to the next round with minutes left in the play when coach Henning Berg fielded Bereszynski.
Blue Flame cause Nordic meltdown
In the Europa League, Trabzonspor will face Rostov to advance to the group stages, while Kardemir Karabükspor aims to continue its surprise start with another solid result against France’s Saint-Etienne.
Karabükspor has knocked Rosenborg out of the competition after a 1-1 draw in Norway on Aug. 7, a week after the first leg game that ended in a goalless draw. The “Blue Flame,” a minnow side hailing from northern Turkey, is playing in the European competition for the first time in its history.