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UEFA Champions League draw reaction

We have the thoughts of André Villas-Boas, Mesut Özil, Rafaél Benítez and others as the UEFA Champions League play-off teams react to Friday's draw in Nyon.

Arsenal's Mesut Özil (left) has tweeted his excitement at facing Beşiktaş in the play-offs
Arsenal's Mesut Özil (left) has tweeted his excitement at facing Beşiktaş in the play-offs ©AFP/Getty Images

UEFA.com rounds up the reaction from the clubs involved after they discovered their fate in the UEFA Champions League play-off draw on Friday. 


Beşiktaş JK (TUR) v Arsenal FC (ENG)
Oğuzhan Özyakup, Beşiktaş midfielder
I think it is a good and very advantageous draw for us. Arsenal have very valuable, quality players such as Mesut Özil and everybody knows that. If you want to reach the group stage you have to eliminate teams like this. It would not matter who we played, because it is the Champions League. Zenit invested more than Arsenal in transfers for example. We won't have any motivational problems.

Mesut Özil, Arsenal midfielder

David Miles, Arsenal club secretary
Beşiktaş are a big side in Turkey, it is going to be two tough games, but I am sure there are going to be two sell-outs both in Turkey and in London and we are very much looking forward to two good games. This time last year we faced Fenerbahçe and we were fortunate enough to come through, so we are very much hoping for a similar end result this season as well.

R. Standard de Liège (BEL) v FC Zenit (RUS)
André Villas-Boas, Zenit coach
Standard de Liège is a club with great history and tradition, one of the strongest in Belgium. I think [Nicolas] Lombaerts and [Axel] Witsel will be particularly glad to play against them. Especially Axel as this is his former club and it is clear what it means for him. We cannot afford to be relaxed in the upcoming matches. Both teams want to reach the Champions League group stage and these ambitions will push us forward. Let us hope two great games are waiting for us.

Axel Witsel, Zenit midfielder

FC København (DEN) v Bayer 04 Leverkusen (GER)
Ståle Solbakken, København coach
It could have been worse, but it could also have been better. I would like to wait to estimate our chances until I have had a closer look at them. During the summer break they have got a new coach, Roger Schmidt, who was with Salzburg last season. If that means they are going to play like Salzburg, it will be with some high pressure and a high speed.

They have a very good player in Stefan Kiessling, and they have been reinforced by Kyriakos Papadopoulos from Schalke, so they have a really strong team, but we will simply have to work hard for the win.

Roger Schmidt, Leverkusen coach
København are a team with a lot of quality, but we cannot just look at them. Our priority is to focus on ourselves. If we want to achieve something, we need to deliver a top performance. You can only influence the opponents' performance if you are well prepared tactically. We have a lot of work ahead of us in that regard. Ståle Solbakken has been very successful in Scandinavia and is able to prepare his teams very well, otherwise FCK wouldn't be here.

LOSC Lille (FRA) v FC Porto (POR)
René Girard, LOSC coach
Porto are a team to be taken seriously. They are present on the European stage every season. I said to the boys right after the draw that this is the kind of match we live for. A good adventure awaits. Our fans are important every season, but with this kind of game will be even more so. It will be noisy in both legs. The only downside is we would have liked to have been at home in the second leg, but, if we want to grow, we must be able to handle this kind of pressure. We will do everything possible.

Fernando Gomes, Porto director
Lille have one of the best youth academies in Europe and they have a good mix of young and experienced players in their squad. They are a strong team that play very well, with quick transitions that cause lots of problems to opponents, but we will get ready to approach the two games appropriately. Our goals for this season are the same as always and one of them is to be in the Champions League group stage.

SSC Napoli (ITA) v Athletic Club (ESP)
Rafaél Benítez, Napoli coach
We are paired with the most difficult side we could have faced – Athletic are the strongest of them all, no doubt. They play good football and the great support of the 50,000 fans at the San Mamés makes them difficult to beat for anybody. I think we will see two brilliant games, played with great intensity by both sides. I think Napoli are well prepared to play a great game and reach our objective, which is playing in the group stage.

©Getty Images

Josu Urrutia, Athletic Club president
It will not be easy. It is a Champions League game against a great opponent. We all know that over the past few years Napoli have improved, but we also know that no team wanted to draw us. To continue in the tournament we have to win.

Personally for me having the second leg at San Mamés is better. In football small details matter, and in games like this they matter even more. As a player I always wanted the return leg at San Mamés, but having it at home does not guarantee anything. At Athletic we play to win, and this is all we are thinking.

NK Maribor (SVN) v Celtic FC (SCO)
Ante Šimundža, Maribor coach
We have to prepare very well, we have to study Celtic's play this season, we have to make every effort to overcome the last barrier to the Champions League group stage. To earn qualification we have to be better over 180 minutes. I expect strong support from the stands, but I know that the Scots are also very proud and loud supporters. In the first leg at home we will give all our energy on the pitch as we know we will receive a lot of energy back from the stands. We are ambitious, we have not said our last word in Europe yet this season.

©Getty Images

Ronny Deila, Celtic manager
It is very strange, I have to say that [after Celtic replaced Legia Warszawa in the UEFA Champions League following Legia fielding a suspended player]. I feel very sorry for Legia. It is tough to think of them but now we are back in the Champions League. We haven't been involved in anything.

I am a football manager so I am now preparing for Maribor. The players want to play in the Champions League and we are going to get another chance and they will have no problem getting up for the game.

FC Salzburg (AUT) v Malmö FF (SWE)
Adi Hütter, Salzburg coach

It is a task that we can definitely accomplish, although Malmö certainly have quality. They were able to get past Sparta [Praha]. We need to keep a clean sheet at home, this is incredibly important at this stage. The team managed to do this against Qarabağ and hopefully we can build on the momentum gained in that game.

Åge Hareide, Malmö coach
We're very, very happy to begin away from home. According to my analysis Salzburg were the most difficult team we could have drawn. They are good in attack, individually skilled and have great experience of playing in Europe.

Aalborg BK (DEN) v APOEL FC (CYP)
Jakob Ahlmann, AaB defender 
We definitely have the chance to proceed to the group stage over two matches. Having put out a team such as Dinamo Zagreb, I definitely think we have a good chance against APOEL. They are usually particularly strong at home, but I still find this draw OK, and anyway we are happy to have escaped Salzburg.

Giorgos Donis, APOEL coach
As I said before, we had a 50-50 chance against all of our opponents. We will be playing a good opponent who are the champions of Denmark and have just had an excellent season. But I believe we will be ready to face them and seize any chance we have of moving into the group stages.

FC Steaua Bucureşti (ROU) v PFC Ludogorets Razgrad (BUL)
Constantin Gâlcă, Steaua coach
Ludogorets are a very good team with plenty of international players and they've invested in acquiring a lot of foreign players, especially South Americans. For sure they will be two very tough matches, but I am confident my team will give their best and I hope to overcome Ludogorets. I do not think the qualification will be decided in the first leg, because both matches will be very even. 

We lost against them 4-2 during the summer preparation period, but this result does not matter and does not have any significance. It is very good that we already met, because we know their quality and potential. I trust my team and we will do everything to qualify.

Georgi Dermendzhiev, Ludogrorets coach
Of course we have a chance against Steaua. We will now start preparing for these games. We played a friendly several weeks ago against them and won 4-2. But the coming games will be completely different, but I believe we have a good chance. The good news is that we are at home for the return leg. Steaua are a great side and they play regularly in the group stages of the UEFA competitions. If we are clever and approach the matches totally focused like we did against Partizan, we can go through.

ŠK Slovan Bratislava (SVK) v FC BATE Borisov (BLR)
Richard Lásik, Slovan Bratislava midfielder
We have got a good team to play against, but on the other side we won't underestimate them. We have got the team we wanted to draw. Our chance of advancing is good, that is for sure, so it does not matter if we play the first leg at home.

Aleksandr Yermakovich, BATE coach
Slovan are an experienced European club. They fought hard to beat a tough Sheriff side and last year they just lost against Ludogorets. A couple of years ago [2011/12] they even defeated Roma on their way to the UEFA Europa League group stage and then competed wth Atletic Club, Paris Saint-Germain and Salzburg. They are not an easy team to beat.