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Champions League first legs: Your guide

In-form Shakhtar visit Fenerbahçe, Steaua rely on a new signing to shine and Darko Jevtić has an emotional Basel reunion: UEFA.com's correspondents preview the first legs.

Shakhtar have started 2015/16 in fine form
Shakhtar have started 2015/16 in fine form ©FC Shakhtar Donetsk

The UEFA Champions League third qualifying round kicks off this week with 13 teams entering the competition to join the 17 who have progressed from the second stage. UEFA.com's team of correspondents give you the lowdown.

Full fixture list

Shakhtar in shape (Tuesday, 20.00)
Shakhtar Donetsk go to Fenerbahçe, and the stadium where they lifted the 2009 UEFA Cup, in high spirits after Ukrainian Super Cup success and two fruitful league outings. Douglas Costa. Luiz Adriano and Fernando have left but Mircea Lucescu still has a high-class squad, built around Alex Teixeira, already up to four goals this term. Marlos and Taison also have big roles while 19-year-old Viktor Kovalenko is a rapidly developing talent. Last Thursday Shakhtar won 4-1 at Volyn Lutsk, showing tactical maturity and a fine counterattack, though there were defensive glitches with Yaroslav Rakitskiy and Ivan Ordets the latter having been the lead contender to replace suspended Olexandr Kucher in Istanbul. Better news is the return to fitness of Darijo Srna and Taras Stepanenko.
Igor Lynnik

František Rajtoral is relishing a return to Tel Aviv
František Rajtoral is relishing a return to Tel Aviv©Getty Images

Will Plzeň be perfect again? (Tuesday, 19.30)
"Plzeň are ready for their favourite task," the Czech media remarked after the draw pitted Viktoria with Maccabi Tel-Aviv (once the Israeli side had battled past Malta's Hibernians). In two previous UEFA Champions League qualifying campaigns, in 2011/12 and 2013/14, Plzeň boast a perfect record of 12 wins, and they now aim for a repeat as they target a third group slot. Viktoria also have recent experience of playing in Tel Aviv, beating Hapoel 2-1 away in the UEFA Europa League group stage in October 2012. Their winning goalscorer that day, František Rajtora, said: "We know what to expect – a roaring atmosphere, a different climate and fast players of high quality."
Ondřej Zlámal

Sparta's Moscow mission (Tuesday, 18.15)
On 30 September 2010, Sparta Praha visited CSKA Moskva in the UEFA Europa League and played superbly, only to concede three goals in the last 18 minutes and lose 3-0. "The CSKA defence is virtually unchanged, but otherwise the team is different," Sparta coach Zdeněk Ščasný said. "I am happy to play the first leg away."
Ondřej Zlámal

Uli Forte is not hopeful against Monaco
Uli Forte is not hopeful against Monaco©Getty Images

Young Boys 'rank outsiders'? (Tuesday, 20.15)
Two season-opening 1-1 draws have already prompted media criticism of self-confessed Swiss Super League title hopefuls Young Boys. "We had hoped for more, the pressure is huge now," declared a downcast coach Uli Forte, whose team also began 2014/15 with two draws. Back then, Forte had offered hopeful and spirited words, but not so this time, especially after a successful pre-season in which YB beat Bundesliga outfit VfB Stuttgart 4-1 and it looked like new boy Miralem Sulejmani would be a big hit. "We are rank outsiders," Forte said of the tie with last season's UEFA Champions League quarter-finalists Monaco.
Steffen Potter

Hodžić hitting the heights (Tuesday, 21.00)
Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb warmed up for the visit of Norway's Molde with an impressive 5-1 league victory against Inter Zaprešić last Tuesday in which Armin Hodžić took centre stage. The 21-year-old Bosnia and Herzegovina Under-21 forward claimed a hat-trick, including a wonderful scissor kick that is an early contender for Croatia's goal of the season.
Elvir Islamović

Jean Sony Alcénat at Petrolul
Jean Sony Alcénat at Petrolul©Getty Images

Steaua stake all on Europe (Wednesday, 20.30)
Their second qualifying round success over AS Trenčín – achieved despite a 3-2 home defeat – was crucial for Steaua București's financial position, and to ensure that run continues against Partizan they rested virtually the whole first team for Saturday's 1-1 league draw with CFR Cluj. Steaua are yet to win at the Bucharest National Arena this term, with two league draws and the second-leg loss to Trenčín, yet they can now finally field Haitian newcomer Jean Sony Alcénat, signed from Petrolul Ploieşti, after the end of his CONCACAF Gold Cup duties. The right-back came on for the second half against CFR to speed his adaption to his new side – and time zone – in a position which was a key weakness against Trenčín.
Paul-Daniel Zaharia

Ajax's 1995 memories stirred (Wednesday, 21.05)
Ajax return to Vienna's Ernst-Happel-Stadion 20 years on from their last European title there, when they defeated AC Milan 1-0. Current coach Frank de Boer was part of a stellar squad which also included Marc Overmars, Clarence Seedorf, Frank Rijkaard, Edwin van der Sar and goalscorer Patrick Kluivert.
Steffen Potter

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