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Spanish fear qualifying cull

Published: Friday 29 July 2005, 22.58CET
Spanish sides Villarreal CF and Real Betis Balompié know that they face a tough challenge to reach the group stage.

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Published: Friday 29 July 2005, 22.58CET

Spanish fear qualifying cull

Spanish sides Villarreal CF and Real Betis Balompié know that they face a tough challenge to reach the group stage.
Spain could be left with just two teams in the UEFA Champions League group stage after both Villarreal CF and Real Betis Balompié were given tough ties in the third qualifying round.

Dangerous opponents
Last year's UEFA Cup semi-finalists Villarreal were pitted against English side Everton, while Betis will face AS Monaco FC, who reached the Champions League final in 2004. Should both Primera División teams perish, only title-holders FC Barcelona and nine-times European champions Real Madrid CF will be left to represent Spain. Last season there was no Spanish representative in the quarter-finals of the competition.

Everton FC v Villarreal CF

From the fans' point of view I am pleased, but from the football side I believe it is one of the harder teams we could have drawn. They are very similar to us in that they had a very good season last year and performed better than they have done for many years. They are a good well-organised side. Everton chief executive Keith Wyness

We have a tough draw, as we always seem to do, because they finished fourth in the English league. We always get difficult opponents and this will be no different. They were one of the hardest teams we could have faced, that's the reality, but we will get through. Villarreal president Fernando Roig

Real Betis Balompié v AS Monaco FC

Monaco are a tough team with a lot of experience in this competition. They have been seasoned campaigners over recent years and have done great things, as when they eliminated Real Madrid [CF] and reached the final. So we will be up against a side that knows the tournament perfectly. Betis vice-president Ángel Martín Vega

Betis are certainly one of the biggest teams we could meet. The draw could have been better. They are among the three or four unseeded teams with the biggest potential. This round is getting trickier in terms of the quality of the opposition, but it should not affect our players' focus. Monaco coach Didier Deschamps

FC Shakhtar Donetsk v FC Internazionale Milano

[Coach] Mircea Lucescu has received a very interesting 60th birthday present. The upcoming games with Inter are an incredible motivation for the Shakhtar players and coaches, given that Lucescu worked there in the late 1990s. They will be two tough encounters. We will treat our opponents with great respect, they are one of the best teams in Europe. Yet we hope Shakhtar will prevail over the two matches. Shakhtar sporting director Victor Prokopenko

It is a very difficult draw for us. We will face a team better prepared than us from the physical point of view because their national league is already started. We will play the first leg away but I don't think it's an advantage for us. Still, we are very confident that we can qualify. Inter coach Roberto Mancini

It will not be easy. They are very strong and Ukrainian football is improving every year. They were one of the teams we wanted to avoid. Mircea Lucescu has also coached at Inter. I was on loan at AC Venezia when he was here, but he is a great coach with a lot of experience. Inter player Alvaro Recoba

Sporting Clube de Portugal v Udinese Calcio

The only thing we can promise is that the team will work very hard to reach the group stage. Sporting technical secretary Eurico Gomes

Ahead of the draw we wanted to avoid the two English sides [Liverpool and Manchester United] and we managed that. Still, I think Sporting are very strong and we will need two great performances to qualify. Last season they reached the UEFA Cup final and they are obviously a great team with plenty of international experience. Udinese captain Valerio Bertotto

FBK Kaunas/Liverpool FC v KF Tirana/PFC CSKA Sofia

We still have a job to do. It is about taking every game seriously which of course we do, we are used to it now. As ever, we treat everybody with respect but not with fear. It is a long season but that's the price of success so no complaints from us. Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry

First, we must do our job against KF Tirana. Obviously, everyone expects a tie against Liverpool. If we play them, we have nothing to lose. We can only win. We will go out against Liverpool and give our best, and play some good football against the best team in Europe. We've got the right to hope. We have nothing to fear. CSKA Sofia coach Miodrag Jesic

Manchester United FC v Debreceni VSC/HNK Hajduk Split

We could have had a harder draw and job to do, although every match is to be taken seriously. We are fully ready for the start of the new season. The team are preparing in Japan and have played some warm-up games. The manager is also very satisfied with his squad, which is very strong and fully ready. Manchester United secretary Ken Ramsden

FC Basel 1893 v Werder Bremen

It is definitely not the easiest tie. FC Basel have proved themselves in Europe in recent years. They also have the advantage of the Swiss league already being in full flow. However, we see ourselves as one of the leading teams in Germany and therefore we should master the challenge. Bremen manager Klaus Allofs

Wisla Kraków v Panathinaikos FC

We were lucky to avoid some very tough opponents in today's draw. That doesn't mean it will be plain sailing. We do not know much about Wisla. Their league has just started, which means their form will not be much better than ours. The fact the first leg takes place in Poland is to our advantage, since at home we will know exactly what we are going after. I don't want to make predictions because we are in a transitional phase. Panathinaikos captain Ioannis Goumas

FC Dinamo Tbilisi/Brøndby IF v AFC Ajax

It is going to be tough, but it is a team we have a chance against. They are always at the top of the Dutch league, and apart from the past couple of years they have always done well in Europe. Brøndby midfielder Martin Retov

I think we will play against Brøndby, as they have the lead from the first leg in the second qualifying round. Brøndby are a very good team and are champions of Denmark, but we could have drawn a worse oponent. Plus, we will play the first match away and the second at home which is to our advantage. So we are satisfied. Our objective is to go as far as we can in the Champions League. Ajax technical director Martin van Geel

Vålerenga IF/FC Haka v Club Brugge KV

We are glad to have avoided Shakhtar Donetsk - we did not want to play them for a third time. So it could have been worse, but a team like Vålerenga are not in the Champions League for nothing. Club Brugge captain Gert Verheyen

Anorthosis Famagusta FC/Trabzonspor v Rangers FC

I would think at this stage that Trabzonspor would be the favourites as they have an away goal. It looks like a decent draw and at this stage we are happy that we have avoided the likes of Real Betis or teams of that ilk. Rangers manager Alex McLeish

Last updated: 29/07/05 19.15CET

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