|Spartak Moskva||Dynamo Kyiv|
|Shakhtar Donetsk||Dinamo Zagreb|
With injuries biting at Galatasaray AŞ the Turkish Süper Lig champions could have their work cut out as they welcome UEFA Champions League third qualifying round masters FC Steaua Bucureşti for the first leg of what promises to be an absorbing tie.
Steaua have emerged unscathed from the potential minefield of this stage in each of the past two seasons, seeing off R. Standard de Liège and FC BATE Borisov, and will present a stiff challenge to Galatasaray's aspirations. To make the task harder for the Turkish side, they will be without new signing Harry Kewell (knee), Tobias Linderoth (pelvis) and influential striker Ümit Karan (thigh strain), though coach Michael Skibbe is unflustered, insisting "our fit players are good enough to get us into the next round".
Those fit players will include goalkeeper Aykut Erçetin, playmaker Lincoln and also Fernando Meira provided the Portuguese defender can shake off an ankle injury. "I expect a challenging game," Skibbe said. "We had some attacking problems in our pre-season friendlies, but that has improved of late. As for Steaua, we watched them last week: they have strength in defence and attack." Kind words, and something the Romanian side's fans may dispute having seen their side open up their Liga 1 campaign with defeat at home by SC Vaslui a fortnight ago.
Marius Lăcătuş's side have since improved, albeit unconvincingly, with back-to-back victories against FC Braşov and FC Politehnica Iaşi, and their coach has cause for optimism. "Unfortunately we still alternate between good and bad moments. In order to obtain a good result in Istanbul we will have to play between good and very good for the entire match, without any bad moments," said Lăcătuş who, like Skibbe, is also contending with the absence of key players.
With Mihăiţă Pleşan ruled out due to a shin injury, Steaua's hopes suffered another blow when joint-record signing János Székely sustained a nasty ankle knock against Politehnica Iaşi. The midfielder is out of the first leg, and will undergo further tests to see whether he will be available for the Bucharest return on 27 August. The situation will be monitored by Romania coach Victor Piţurcă as Székely had been in the running for an international call ahead of the Romania–Latvia friendly. Lăcătuş will hope his charges gain plenty of experience on the continental stage this season.
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