It may only be a month since Real Madrid CF tasted glory in Lisbon but a host of clubs from across the continent are already gearing up for the 2014/15 UEFA Champions League.
The sense of excitement and anticipation was evident at Saint Patrick's Athletic FC on Monday, with members of the team and a collection of the club's backroom staff gathering at their Richmond Park ground to watch the first and second qualifying round draws streamed live on UEFA.com.
The 2013 Irish champions have been handed a difficult task for their first appearance in Europe's elite club competition since the 1999/2000 campaign, as they were pitted against back-to-back Polish champions Legia Warszawa in the second qualifying round.
"It's a very tough game for us," said captain Ger O'Brien. "They reached the group stage of the UEFA Europa League last season and you just look at their manager, Henning Berg, who has played for Manchester United and Blackburn. I believe seven of their players have been capped by Poland in the last year, so it goes to show the quality that they have."
Should O'Brien and his team overcome Berg's side they would make club history, as Saint Patrick's have never won a qualifying round tie in the UEFA Champions League or European Champion Clubs' Cup in three attempts. Their most recent encounter at this level, 15 years ago, ended in a 10-0 aggregate defeat by FC Zimbru Chisinau.
O'Brien added: "This has been a long time coming; the last time that the club played in the UEFA Champions League the results were very indifferent for us, so it gives us a chance to get back on to the top stage in European football and hopefully we can have a positive summer in this competition."
While O'Brien feels his team will be "very much underdogs" in the tie, goalkeeper Brendan Clarke believes the timing may lend them an advantage. "They're only coming back into pre-season which could help us, as we are in mid-season. The excitement is great, the whole buzz around the UEFA Champions League is fantastic and we'll be looking to get a big crowd here in Dublin and feed off them."
Saint Patrick's will travel to Warsaw for the first leg on 15 or 16 July, with the return match in Ireland taking place the following week.
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