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Quartet start out on road to Munich

Published: Friday 24 June 2011, 13.30CET
It is just a month since FC Barcelona dismantled Manchester United FC at Wembley but for four sides the road to Munich and the UEFA Champions League final kicks off on Tuesday.
by Domenic Aquilina, Álvaro Macho & Florian Pertsch
Quartet start out on road to Munich
The Dudelange lineup ©F91 Dudelange
 
 
 
Published: Friday 24 June 2011, 13.30CET

Quartet start out on road to Munich

It is just a month since FC Barcelona dismantled Manchester United FC at Wembley but for four sides the road to Munich and the UEFA Champions League final kicks off on Tuesday.

The dust has barely settled on FC Barcelona's majestic dismantling of Manchester United FC at Wembley but for four sides the road to Munich and the 2011/12 UEFA Champions League final kicks off on Tuesday.

Precisely a month on from the London showpiece, the titleholders in Malta, San Marino, Luxembourg and Andorra will get the next edition under way as they contest the first qualifying round. Munich is a world away, and in truth none of the sides are looking beyond their initial assignments according to Dan Theis, coach of F91 Dudelange.

"We just want to go through to the next round and know that is expected of us," he said ahead of the Luxembourger titleholders' trip to Andorran part-timers FC Santa Coloma. "It is the be all and end all for us, and I wouldn't mind qualifying for the next round: then we would meet quite a different calibre with Slovenia's NK Maribor."

It will be Santa Coloma's third tilt at reaching the second stage and they are yet to do so. Dudelange have some pedigree and even if they have only successfully negotiated the first hurdle once in seven attempts confidence is high after sauntering to the title last term, a goal difference of +51 epitomising their dominance.

It underlines just why they approach Tuesday's first leg as favourites, says Santa Coloma boss Luis Blanco. "Dudelange are a professional club, so we will try to bring out all our weapons. I dream about a draw or a win, and after that we would go to Luxemburg and see what happens. We know it's very difficult, but it's not impossible."

The other first qualifying round tie, between Malta champions Valletta FC and Sammarinese counterparts SP Tre Fiori, is a more even affair on paper. "I don't see much difference between my team and Tre Fiori at this stage," said Valletta coach Jesmond Zerafa. "Yet I have full confidence in my squad reaching our main objective: qualification for the second qualifying round."

Morale is high ahead of Tuesday's trip to San Marino after Valletta captured their first silverware of the season last week in a friendly tournament featuring Malta's three European representatives. Not that Zerafa's charges lack confidence – they went through 2010/11 unbeaten in the Premier League, finishing up with the best attack and tightest defence.

Should they come through the first leg and the following Wednesday's return their reward will be a meeting with FK Ekranas of Lithuania. The Dudelange-Santa Coloma tie concludes 24 hours earlier.

Last updated: 28/06/11 16.11CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/news/newsid=1645761.html#quartet+start+road+munich

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