The UEFA Champions League play-offs begin this week with the likes of AFC Ajax, FC Dynamo Kyiv, SV Werder Bremen and UC Sampdoria vying for the ten group stage places on offer.
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The UEFA Champions League play-offs are due to begin on Tuesday with the likes of AFC Ajax, FC Dynamo Kyiv, SV Werder Bremen and UC Sampdoria all targeting one of the ten group stage places on offer.
Two of the ties are already guaranteed to produce group-stage newcomers, starting with the contest between BSC Young Boys and former UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and UEFA Cup winners Tottenham Hotspur FC set to kick off in Berne on Tuesday. The following night, it will then be the turn of FC Salzburg to commence their tussle with fellow hopefuls Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC.
The tie between Salzburg and Hapoel is one of five in the Champions Route that will ensure the number of nations represented in the group stage rises from the 13 already confirmed to at least 18. The Champions Route has also pitted a couple of familiar names against 'local' opposition, with Rosenborg BK playing FC København on Tuesday and AC Sparta Praha welcoming Slovakia's MŠK Žilina the same evening.
In the League Route, FC Zenit St. Petersburg face AJ Auxerre in Tuesday's early kick-off and AFC Ajax visit FC Dynamo Kyiv. The following night's matches ought to be just as intriguing too, as SC Braga continue their bid for a group-stage debut at home to Sevilla FC and SV Werder Bremen take on a UC Sampdoria side whose most recent European Champion Clubs' Cup appearance came in the 1991/92 showpiece, the final match before the UEFA Champions League era. Elsewhere, Moldova's FC Sheriff will be aiming to secure a maiden UEFA Champions League group berth on Wednesday when they visit FC Basel 1893, while FK Partizan tackle RSC Anderlecht.
All five games commencing on Wednesday will conclude on Tuesday 24 August, with the five remaining second legs then drawing to a close the following night. The group-stage draw, which will include holders FC Internazionale Milano among 22 teams automatically qualified, will take place at 18.00CET on 26 August in Monaco.
|UEFA Champions League play-off round|
|Tuesday 17 August|
|BSC Young Boys (SUI)||Tottenham Hotspur FC (ENG)|
|Rosenborg BK (NOR)||FC København (DEN)|
|FC Dynamo Kyiv (UKR)||AFC Ajax (NED)|
|AC Sparta Praha (CZE)||MŠK Žilina (SVK)|
|FC Zenit St. Petersburg (RUS)||AJ Auxerre (FRA)|
|Wednesday 18 August|
|FC Salzburg (AUT)||Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC (ISR)|
|SC Braga (POR)||Sevilla FC (ESP)|
|SV Werder Bremen (GER)||UC Sampdoria (ITA)|
|FK Partizan (SRB)||RSC Anderlecht (BEL)|
|FC Basel 1893 (SUI)||FC Sheriff (MDA)|