Big names begin Champions League campaigns

The UEFA Champions League second qualifying round kicks off on Tuesday, with the likes of Celtic FC and FC BATE Borisov joining the two first round winners.

Big names begin Champions League campaigns
Big names begin Champions League campaigns ©

UEFA Champions League qualifying begins in earnest on Tuesday when 32 teams enter the fray at the second qualifying round stage, all with dreams of the Lisbon final.

Armenia's FC Shirak and EB/Streymur of the Faroe Islands were the sides to prevail from the two first round ties, and they will be rubbing shoulders with the likes of FC BATE Borisov and GNK Dinamo Zagreb, both group stage contenders last term. Indeed, 2012/13 round of 16 competitors Celtic FC are also in the mix, and the Scottish champions will make the short trip across the Irish Sea on Wednesday to face Cliftonville FC. It is a perfect tie for the Northern Irish outfit, who count chairman Gerard Lawlor as one of many Celtic fans at the club.

"It really is a dream come true," said Lawlor. "As the draw came through I began to shake more and more and more. And I am just delighted for the fans and for our players – probably so many of them would be Celtic supporters – and it is just a dream come true for the club."

Dinamo Zagreb and BATE are aiming to repeat last year's feat of earning a place among the last 32 teams, with the Croatian side heading to Luxembourg to play competition newcomers CS Fola Esch while Kazakhstan's FC Shakhter Karagandy await Viktor Goncharenko's Belarusian title holders on Tuesday. European champions in 1986, FC Steaua Bucureşti are hoping to end a four-year absence from the group stage but must contend with Macedonian club FK Vardar, who fell at this stage to BATE last season.

Other big names come in the shape of Serbian heavyweights FK Partizan, group phase contenders in 2010/11, who tackle Shirak, the conquerors of SP Tre Penne; the other first-round survivors EB/Streymur travel to Georgia and FC Dinamo Tbilisi. Meanwhile, Czech representatives FC Viktoria Plzeň, who took points off AC Milan after making it through qualifying in 2011/12, host FK Željezničar of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

A trio of UEFA Champions League debutants, FK Sutjeska, JK Nõmme Kalju and FC Daugava Daugavpils, all start with away dates, against FC Sheriff, HJK Helsinki and IF Elfsborg respectively. The return legs will be played on 23/24 July. FC Basel 1893, APOEL FC and FK Austria Wien join proceedings in the third qualifying round.

Second qualifying round draw (16/17 and 23/24 July)*
Neftçi PFK (AZE) v KS Skënderbeu (ALB)
FC Steaua Bucureşti (ROU) v FK Vardar (MKD)
FC Viktoria Plzeň (CZE) v FK Željezničar (BIH)
FC Sheriff (MDA) v FK Sutjeska (MNE)
Birkirkara FC (MLT) v NK Maribor (SVN)
Sligo Rovers FC (IRL) v Molde FK (NOR)
IF Elfsborg (SWE) v FC Daugava Daugavpils (LVA)
HJK Helsinki (FIN) v JK Nõmme Kalju (EST)
FK Ekranas (LTU) v FH Hafnarfjördur (ISL)
The New Saints FC (WAL) v Legia Warszawa (POL)
Celtic FC (SCO) v Cliftonville FC (NIR)
GNK Dinamo Zagreb (CRO) v CS Fola Esch (LUX)
Győri ETO FC (HUN) v Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC (ISR)
FC BATE Borisov (BLR) v FC Shakhter Karagandy (KAZ)
FC Shirak (ARM) v FK Partizan (SRB)
ŠK Slovan Bratislava (SVK) v PFC Ludogorets Razgrad (BUL)
FC Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO) v EB/Streymur (FRO)

* Results subject to pending disciplinary proceedings and final confirmation from UEFA