The UEFA Champions League second qualifying round ties conclude this week with Rangers FC among the giants battling to continue their European campaigns.
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The UEFA Champions League second qualifying round concludes this week with Rangers FC among the sides battling to continue their European campaigns.
Having entered Europe's premier club competition at the same stage last season before dropping into the UEFA Cup, Rangers' run to the final meant a gruelling end-of-season schedule both at home and abroad. However, the Scottish club are in danger of bowing out of continental action before their domestic campaign has even kicked off, the Light Blues travelling to Lithuania to face FBK Kaunas with the tie delicately poised at 0-0. The winners of the tie are likely to meet Aalborg BK, who lead Bosnia-Herzegovina's FK Modriča 5-0 ahead of their return in Zenica on Wednesday.
Also facing Baltic opposition on Tuesday are SK Brann. The Norwegian title-holders will seek to defend their one-goal lead over Latvian outfit FK Ventspils with an enticing third qualifying round tie against 1992/93 UEFA Champions League winners Olympique de Marseille at stake. A day later, group stage regulars FC Dynamo Kyiv host competition debutants Drogheda United FC, leading 2-1 and bidding to meet old Soviet rivals FC Spartak Moskva, while Belarus' FC BATE Borisov will be anxious to build on their impressive 2-1 defeat of RSC Anderlecht in Belgium seven days previously.
Two-time European champions FC Barcelona await the winners of the Beitar Jerusalem FC and Wisła Kraków tie, the Israeli side 2-1 up going into the return in Poland. AC Sparta Praha also hold a one-goal lead over their Moldovan visitors FC Sheriff. Elsewhere, 2003/04 group stage participants FK Partizan and Swiss double winners FC Basel 1893 both scored away goals in 1-1 draws against FC İnter Bakı and IFK Göteborg respectively but cannot rest on their laurels, while quarter-finalists last term, Fenerbahçe SK, are favourites to progress to the next round after defeating MTK Budapest 2-0 at home last week.
Should Anorthosis Famagusta FC overcome SK Rapid Wien – they lead 3-0 – an intriguing tie with Greek neighbours Olympiacos CFP would be all that separates Temuri Ketsbaia's side from becoming the first Cypriot club to reach the group stage. Also 3-0 victors after their openers against FC Dinamo Tbilisi and NK Domžale respectively, are Panathinaikos FC and NK Dinamo Zagreb. FC Artmedia Petržalka, who advanced from the first qualifying round to the group phase in 2005/06, lead Finnish representatives Tampere United 3-1 going into their home leg.