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Champions eyeing group stage prize

The ten domestic titleholders in the Champions Route were in cautious mood after the play-off draw although many also betrayed their excitement at the prospect of a group stage spot.

Žilina have never competed in the group stage before
Žilina have never competed in the group stage before ©Ján Mintál

While MŠK Žilina and FC Sheriff are attempting to reach the UEFA Champions League group stage for the first time, many of the clubs in the Champions Route are eyeing a return to Europe's top table. UEFA.com rounds up the reaction to the play-off draw with a mixture of caution and excitement prevalent among the ten domestic titleholders.

Rosenborg BK v FC København
Erik Hoftun, Rosenborg director of football

It will be exciting. We have drawn the team that will generate most interest around the matches. It is really positive that Scandinavia is now guaranteed a place in the UEFA Champions League group stage this season. We will face a good team that can beat us. We would have liked to play the first game away, but now we just have to get a good result at Lerkendal and take it from there.

Ståle Solbakken, København coach 
There were probably two teams from the five we could meet that we would have liked to avoid. One of them was Salzburg, the other one was Rosenborg. We look forward to two tight matches. The fact that we are going to play the second leg at home is important, and we will really need a full Parken Stadium behind us. There is no doubt that Lerkendal will be full for the first leg, and considering Rosenborg's outstanding domestic form at the moment, it will undoubtedly be two tough matches – but also a great experience.

FC Salzburg v Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC
Huub Stevens, Salzburg coach

We did not want to travel this far, but there is nothing we can do about that. This will be a tough ask. Israeli football has shown what it is capable of several times. Since last year, everyone should know just how strong their top teams are. This has been impressively demonstrated by Maccabi Haifa and Hapoel Tel-Aviv.

Douglas da Silva, Hapoel defender
At this stage every team wants to reach the group stage and the battle will be harder than anything we have known so far in Europe because for every team there is a lot more at stake. The Austrian champions are not a side that can be underestimated and I am just delighted the return leg will be at home in front of our fans.

FC Basel 1893 v FC Sheriff
Thorsten Fink, Basel coach
Sheriff will be difficult opponents. We will by no means underestimate them. Whoever beats Dinamo Zagreb is surely very capable. We'll prepare very thoroughly. Our goal is to reach the group stage and I believe we can do it – we need to prepare and perform well. We do not know much about them right now, only that they ousted Dinamo. We are favourites, but it is not a sure thing. Also, it is not an advantage playing at home first, but you cannot choose these things.

Andrey Sasnitski, Sheriff coach
Basel are a very strong side who played in the group stage two years ago. They seem to be favourites in our tie so it'll be a bit easier for us from a mental point of view. We won an extremely tough clash against an ambitious Dinamo Zagreb side so we have nothing to fear now. We're determined to give the Swiss champions a fight and take our chances.

AC Sparta Praha v MŠK Žilina
Jozef Chovanec, Sparta coach
We know each other very well and so will have a lot of information, but it is the same for Zilina. We played out a goalless draw there in a friendly last February. It will be different now and we know that it will not be easy. They are very successful in games against Czech opponents. The good news is that Zilina is not far from Prague and we expect strong support from our fans − it's very important for us.

Pavel Hapal, Žilina coach
Sparta are an exceptionally tough team and it will be a special battle between two rivals from the former Czechoslovakia. I expect two attractive games with lots more interest from the media and I'm looking forward to it.

FK Partizan v RSC Anderlecht
Aleksandar Stanojević, Partizan coach

Anderlecht are a famous European club who play in a competitive Belgian league. I have no details on them, but will start researching them from today. I'd like to watch them live in Belgium, too. It's almost impossible to say what we want from the first leg but any victory, be it 5-4 or 1-0, is good and 0-0 is also not a bad result before the second leg. We just want to give everything in the two matches and make the group stage for the second time in our history. It is pleasure to be in this competition and we will try to continue in it.

Ariël Jacobs, Anderlecht coach
Partizan are one of the most difficult opponents we could have drawn. We have not seen them play live yet so it is hard for us to know exactly what they are like, but it is certainly going to be tough. Our technical staff will scout them for the first time this weekend.