Şenol Güneş was goalkeeper in the Trabzonspor AŞ team that beat Liverpool FC in the first leg of their European Champion Clubs' Cup second round tie in October 1976. Now coach of the Turkish side he is hoping to spring another surprise when the two clubs meet in the UEFA Europa League play-offs following Friday's draw in Nyon.
Trabzonspor won the home leg 1-0 only to succumb 3-0 in the return. Bob Paisley's side went on to win their first European Cup that season and have won it a further four times since. Trabzonspor may not have a European pedigree to match, but Güneş insists his side have reason for confidence. "Of course conditions are very different now compared to then," he said. "Now any team can beat another and levels between sides are becoming more balanced. Beating teams like this is really important to us."
Like Liverpool, Juventus won the UEFA Cup a record three times, but Bianconeri coach Luigi Delneri believes his charges have their work cut out just to reach the group stage after being paired up with SK Sturm Graz. "The draw turned out to be a tricky one for us," he said. "Sturm Graz are second in their league and they finished fourth last term. We can't underestimate the task; I will field the best possible XI.
I don't know how far we can go, but we don't want to set ourselves a limit."
After getting the better of Wisła Kraków in the third qualifying round, FK Qarabağ will be looking to further bolster their growing reputation against 1997 UEFA Champions League winners BV Borussia Dortmund. "The visit of a team like that to Azerbaijan is very good for football in our country," Qarabağ defender and Azerbaijan captain Rashad F Sadygov said. "Our game against Wisła was sold out and you can imagine the interest there will be in Baku for Dortmund."
Dortmund coach Jürgen Klopp is expecting a testing tie. "Whoever ousts the Polish runners-up has to be taken seriously," he said. "The logistical challenge [of travelling to Baku] will not be a problem for a club with the international experience of BVB.
Our goals haven't changed: we want to reach the group stage."
PSV Eindhoven face the biggest trip of all to newcomers FC Sibir Novosibirsk, the most easterly club to ever compete in European competition. Coach Fred Rutten concedes the tie is a step into the unknown. "It will be a long journey," he said. "They are an unknown opponent and it won't be easy to travel there. We will have a close look at them in the coming days."
Sibir may sit bottom of the Russian top flight, but captain Aleksei Medvedev has high hopes of springing a surprise: "They obviously have more quality than Sibir, but the fact their domestic league hasn't started yet could be an advantage for us. I'd say our chances are 50-50."
Two sides on more familiar terms are SK Rapid Wien and Aston Villa FC who met at this stage last year. The Austrian club knocked out the 1982 European Cup winners on the away-goals rule and defender Andreas Dober sees no reason why his team cannot do it again. "Aston Villa will travel to Vienna with great respect," he said. "We won't be afraid as we beat them last year. Of course they're favourites again, but if we can get a result in the first match, anything is possible. We will not make it easy for Villa."
Villa manager Martin O'Neill added: "
We kind of had the feeling beforehand that we would probably find ourselves drawn against Rapid Vienna again. As proved to be the case last year, this will be a difficult assignment against difficult opposition. Rapid was as tough a draw as we could have encountered but we'll be ready to go."
Given the money Manchester City FC have spent this summer they were the team everybody wanted to avoid. FC Timişoara drew the short straw. "We were drawn against the most difficult possible opponent," coach Vladimir Petrović said. "It could not have been more difficult. Manchester City are obviously favourites.
We know their players and who they have bought, but that doesn't mean we'll sit back and play the victim." City manager Roberto Mancini said: "It will be a difficult game and any team from Romania will provide stiff opposition, particularly on their own ground."
Having watched compatriots FC Nordsjælland push Sporting Clube de Portugal close in the third qualifying round, midfielder Mike Jensen is quietly confident after Brøndby IF were drawn against the Portuguese side. "They must be favourites, but fortunately favourites don't always win. I don't know a lot about them but I know that they only narrowly defeated Nordsjælland and one of the Nordsjælland players has said his team should have won."
Sporting coach Paulo Sérgio will certainly not be taking Brøndby lightly. "We have to respect our opponents because one of our main goals is to play the group phase. Brøndby could be stronger than Nordsjælland but above all we have to worry about ourselves."
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