Celtic handed Arsenal test in Champions League play-off
Celtic will have to win a 'Battle of Britain' play-off if they want to qualify for the Champions League group stages after being drawn with English Premier League giants Arsenal on Friday.sports Updated: Aug 09, 2009 15:39 IST
Celtic will have to win a 'Battle of Britain' play-off if they want to qualify for the Champions League group stages after being drawn with English Premier League giants Arsenal on Friday.
Celtic maintained their interest in Europe's premier club competition on Wednesday by overcoming a 1-0 first leg defeat to Dynamo Moscow in third round qualifying to win the second leg in Russia 2-0.
The Scottish Premier League runners-up will now have to better Arsenal over two legs later this month if they are to become one of the 10 teams from this draw to join the 22 already qualified for the lucrative group stages.
Arsenal spokesman David Miles admitted the thought of meeting their "good friends from Celtic" is one the club's fans will be looking forward to.
And he said Arsenal, who he admitted could "look to add one or two faces" before the end of the transfer window, would look to go one better than their semi-final place last year.
"We would like to go one stage further than last year," Miles told eurosport. "Last year we got to the semi-finals, this time we would like to go to the final."
Elsewhere in the draw, composed of 10 champions group teams and 10 non-champions groups teams, there were few major shocks - and a couple of clubs with smiles on their faces.
Former French champions Lyon, who over the years have consistently made the quarter-finals of the competition, were handed what looked a plum draw against Belgian league runners-up side Anderlecht.
However, top club official Bernard Lacombe said they won't be taking anything for granted. He compared the stadium atmosphere as similar to that of Rhone rivals Saint Etienne.
"We've already played them and they're not easy to play against," said Lacombe.
"The return match is in Belgium, where it's a bit like Saint Etienne. It's quite a lively atmosphere. But the important thing is we avoided Atletico Madrid - they were one of the teams we didn't want to meet."
Two of the tightest battles for a group stage spot could take place between Sporting Lisbon, who drew Italians Fiorentina, and Greek side Panathinaikos, who were drawn with Atletico Madrid.
The other draw in the non-Champions group pitted German side VfB Stuttgart with Romanian outfit Timisoara.
Meawnwhile, there were some unpredictable match-ups from the 'Champions group' draw.
Greek champions Olympiakos will play their first of their two legs against FC Sheriff in Romania, while Austrian champions FC Salzburg will host Israeli counterparts Maccabi Haifa.
In the first leg Ventspils, bidding to become the first Latvian side in the group stages, will host Swiss counterparts FC Zurich.
Danish champions FC Copenhagen host Apoel Nicosia of Cyprus in the first leg while Bulgarian title-winners Levski Sofia host Hungarian champions Debrecen.
The first legs of the play-off will be held on August 18 and 19, with the second leg held on August 25 and 26. The winners go into the group stages while the losers drop into the inaugural Europa League group stage.
The draw for the group stages of the Champions League is composed of 32 teams and will be held in Monaco on August 27.