Champions League, Europa Draws Announced

by Robert on August 6, 2010 · 4 comments

Earlier today, UEFA unveiled its pairings for both the UEFA Champions League play-off rounds and the UEFA Europa League play-off draw

For Champions League participant Sampdoria, they will take on Bundesliga club SV Werder Bremen on August 18 (away) and August 24 (home).  The Werder are the 2009 UEFA Cup runners-up, losing 2-1 to Shakhtar Donetsk.  The club is one of Germany's most successful, regularly competing for a title as well as in European competitions.  They've won four total titles, most recently in 2003-2004, and finished third last season.  In the 2008-2009 UEFA Cup, they were nicknamed "The Italian Killers" after they defeated Udinese and AC Milan in the competition. 

Their biggest name is Mesut Ozil, who gained fame for his excellent performance in this year's World Cup.  His scoring ability is the club's biggest weapon and one Sampdoria will have a hard time stopping.  The club's backline is anchored by his tall fellow international Per Mertesacker as well as the athletic Brazilian Naldo.  Serie A fans may recognize the team's newest player, former Inter sub Marko Arnautovic who was acquired from FC Twente.  You can read a team preview at our sister site Bundesliga Talk.  This match-up will be a challenging one for Cassano and company, but if they can grab some goals in Bremen they should be favored with the second match at home.

Inter Milan, AS Roma, and AC Milan are the other three Serie A clubs participating in the Champions League.  Their draws will be announced at the end of the playoff-round.

In the Europa League, Juventus will face Austrian club SK Sturm Graz, Palermo will face NK Maribor (Slovenia), and Napoli will face IF Elfsborg (Sweden).  The first match will take place August 19, with the return August 26.  The next round pairings will be announced August 27.

Sturm Graz has a history of competing in European tournaments, including last year's Europa League.  In 2009, they won two qualifiers then the play-off round against Metalist Kharkiv (Ukraine) to qualify for group play.  They finished 1-1-4 and failed to advance, with their only victory coming against Galatasaray 1-0 at home.  This year, they beat Georgia's Dinamo Tbilsi to reach the play-off round.

NK Maribor is the most successful club in Slovenia's young soccer history.  The Vijoliasti have won eight league titles and are the only club from the country to play in the Champions League.  The beginning of the last decade saw the team play well despite financial troubles, and last season they captured the Slovenian Cup and Supercup.  Slovenia's most popular club, they defeated Videoton FC (Hungary) and Hibernian FC (Greece) to reach this stage.  They are 0-2 all-time versus Italian clubs in European competitions.

Elfsborg will prove to be a good test for Napoli, but one that Napoli should pass.  The Swedish club has won five titles, the most recent in 2006, and played in the 2009 UEFA Cup, losing to Lazio.

4 comments… read them below or add one

1 Niccolo Conte August 6, 2010 at 12:53 pm

Looking forward to see Sampdoria-Werder Bremen, what do you think will happen in that match? It’s a very balanced play-off.


2 Robert August 6, 2010 at 1:54 pm

It’ll be a great match. I’ve seen analyses from Werder fans dreading the matchup, which seems good for Serie A’s perception. I think Sampdoria should be a slight favorite, and if they score in the first match and draw/lose by one goal, they should be the favorites to advance. But Ozil’s a wildcard


3 Niccolo Conte August 7, 2010 at 8:24 am

Yes, I’m very scared that Sampdoria will be knocked out thanks to Ozil, who for me will make sure that he is noticed this season after his splendid World Cup.


4 Rami S. August 7, 2010 at 3:46 pm

It’s become a battle for CL spots between Serie A and Bundesliga. I remember last season, Inter had to win in order to preserve Italy’s 4 spots in the CL and they did defeat Bayern.

Now Sampdoria risk elimination at the hands of Bremen. The Germans are a solid bunch and I give the tie a 50-50 chance of going either way.

By the way, one thing the Bundesliga has been perhaps the best at in Europe is the average attendance and the growing number of fans following the game. This is another reason why the Germans went far in South Africa 2010.

More tickets sold means more sponsorship deals and more funds going into the clubs and consequently the clubs have the ability to invest in better players.


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