FC Schalke 04 are to play AS Nancy-Lorraine in the 2006/07 UEFA Cup, while holders Sevilla FC have been paired with European debutants Atromitos FC after today's first-round draw in Monaco.
Schalke's meeting with Nancy was perhaps the pick of the 40 ties to be played over two legs on 14 and 28 September. "Nancy are a dangerous opponent," Schalke coach Mirko Slomka said. "French football is technically strong so we'll have to be wide awake. I know the club, but not their current team. We will prepare intensively and study our opponent. We want to reach the group stage and have to prove this, particularly at home in front of our own crowd."
Nancy coach Pablo Correa added: "I'm satisfied to avoid a trip to Fenerbahçe [SK] in Turkey and especially to avoid [FC] Lokomotiv Moskva who have already played 17 league games this season. It won't be easy but the aim is to advance." The victorious sides will go through to the group stage, which will see the teams divided into eight groups of five. Sevilla, who meet FC Barcelona in tonight's UEFA Super Cup at the Stade Louis II, are the defending champions after beating Middlesbrough FC in last season's final.
Their trip to Greece to take on Atromitos, though, will be a step into the unknown. "I have never heard of them, but we will have to show the respect that this competition deserves because nowadays anyone is capable of beating anyone," Sevilla president José Maria Del Nido said. "They will be celebrating being drawn against the cup winners. The worst thing is that we face a long trip, which means leaving a day earlier and then arriving back at dawn the day after the match. That's not great for our plans, but we are lucky we are playing for four trophies and are used to this kind of thing now."
Schalke and Sevilla are among eight former winners taking part, with AFC Ajax, Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Eintracht Frankfurt, Feyenoord, Parma FC and Tottenham Hotspur FC having also lifted the trophy. A further eight contenders will join the fray in the last 32 after finishing third in their respective UEFA Champions League groups. All involved will be dreaming of going all the way to the final at Glasgow's Hampden Park on 16 May 2007.
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