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Big names enter fray as league route gets going

Published: Friday 27 July 2012, 15.02CET
The league route of the UEFA Champions League starts in the third qualifying round, with some enticing ties on view as another step is taken down the road to Wembley.

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Published: Friday 27 July 2012, 15.02CET

Big names enter fray as league route gets going

The league route of the UEFA Champions League starts in the third qualifying round, with some enticing ties on view as another step is taken down the road to Wembley.

The third qualifying round is where Europe's top club competition gets an influx of big names courtesy of the league route – with the likes of Panathinaikos FC, Fenerbahçe SK, Feyenoord and FC Dynamo Kyiv all joining the road to Wembley.

While London in May is the ultimate goal, for now the target is the play-offs in August. Seventeen teams progressed from the second qualifying round, which concluded on Wednesday, and their numbers are boosted by 11 clubs who will get their first taste of UEFA Champions League action this season.

After hosting the UEFA EURO 2012 final at the beginning of July, Kyiv is back in the spotlight on the last day of the month when Dynamo welcome former European champions Feyenoord in what is probably the pick of the ties in the round. The league route draw produced three other contests, including Fenerbahçe versus SC Vaslui and FC København against Club Brugge KV.

The other tie on that side of the draw features Panathinaikos – who lost the 1971 final at Wembley – and Motherwell FC, making their first European Cup appearance. Motherwell director Andrew Wilson said: "Panathinaikos obviously have got a great European pedigree. We share a patron saint and we look forward to welcoming that great club to Motherwell. Hopefully we'll give them a great welcome off the park and a tough test on it."

Another Scottish team and a club to have lifted the famous trophy, Celtic FC, also enter the fray at this stage, but as domestic title holders take part in the champions route. They will meet HJK Helsinki, impressive winners against KR Reykjavík in the last round, while another side with a great history in continental competition, RSC Anderlecht, play Lithuanian champions FK Ekranas.

Last season, FC Basel 1893 eliminated Manchester United FC from the group stage on their way to the round of 16. The former United striker Ole Gunnar Solskjær now stands in the way of the Swiss champions as coach of Molde FK. Elsewhere, F91 Dudelange will hope to cause another stir when they play NK Maribor having seen off FC Salzburg and FC BATE Borisov meet Debreceni VSC.

Last updated: 27/11/12 4.16CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/news/newsid=1843325.html#big+names+enter+fray+league+route+gets+going

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