Former winners Galatasaray SK are among the 64 clubs who will compete in the 2007/08 UEFA Cup second qualifying round when the first legs are played on Thursday.
The Turkish giants are among 27 teams entering the competition at this stage, eleven via the UEFA Intertoto Cup including Hamburger SV, Club Atlético de Madrid and UC Sampdoria. Galatasaray, who lifted this trophy in 2000, are up against European debutants NK Slaven Koprivnica of Croatia. Slaven were one of 37 teams to win through from the first qualifying round and will stage the first leg.
With such attractive opposition and an impressive 8-4 aggregate defeat of KS Teuta of Albania in the previous round, Slaven coach Krunoslav Jurčić has a tough task to keep his players' feet on the ground. "Football is very popular in the city again, but I am trying to decrease that euphoria," he said. "It's not easy when such a big team is coming to the city. My philosophy is to play aggressively and be brave and I told my players that they have to be like this against Galatasaray. If so, anything is possible."
While Galatasaray have claimed European club football's second biggest prize in the past, former European champions Hamburg will meet Hungary's Budapest Honvéd FC over two legs. Three teams that lifted the defunct UEFA Cup Winners' Cup are also in action; Atlético will face FK Vojvodina of Serbia, Sampdoria have been paired with HNK Hajduk Split and FC Dinamo Tbilisi are to play SK Rapid Wien. Surprise Luxembourg qualifiers UN Käerjéng 97 have been rewarded with a tie against R. Standard de Liège.
Road to Manchester
Once this stage is completed on 30 August, the first-round draw will be held the following day in Nyon, with the ties to be held over two legs on 20 September and 4 October. Lying in wait for the 32 victors from the final qualifying round will be 48 other clubs including the four-time European champions and 1996 UEFA Cup winners FC Bayern München and the 16 sides eliminated in the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League. The 40 first-round winners will participate in the UEFA Cup group stage, with the eventual goal a place in the final at the City of Manchester Stadium on Wednesday 14 May 2008.
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