Continental giants Bayern Munich and Arsenal enter the Champions League at the play-off stage this week knowing that failure to reach the competition’s lucrative group stage is unthinkable.
Arsenal’s failure to finish higher than fourth in last season’s Premier League came back to haunt them when they were drawn to face Serie A surprise package Udinese in their two-legged play-off.
The Gunners can draw some comfort from the fact that the Udinese squad that lit up Italy last season has since been weakened by the departures of winger Alexis Sanchez, defender Cristian Zapata, and midfielder Gokhan Inler.
The pressure is arguably even greater on four-time European champions Bayern Munich as they prepare to take on FC Zurich. The 2010 runners-up may be missing injury-plagued Dutch winger Arjen Robben for the first-leg after he sat out Saturday’s Bundesliga win at Wolfsburg.
Lyon are hoping to take their place in the group stage for the 12th consecutive season but they will have a tough outing against Russian club Rubin Kazan.
Turkey delays match-fixing decision
Ankara: Turkey’s Football Federation said on Monday it would not take any decisions regarding individuals or clubs involved in alleged match-fixing until after a Turkish court lifts the secrecy on evidence being given to an ongoing police probe.
The federation said suspects, who include the chairman of Fenerbahce football club Aziz Yildirim and players, will be referred at some stage to their disciplinary board. “We have information and documents but they are not adequate to make a decision,” said Mehmet Ali Aydinlar, head of the federation.
“The federation is waiting for the secrecy on the evidence to be lifted,” he added.
The start of the Turkish season has been delayed by a month to Sep 9 so its ethics committee can investigate the scandal.