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Former winners Benfica enter the fray

The champions of Scotland, Denmark and Belgium enter the third qualifying round this week along with SL Benfica, the first former European champions to feature in this season's competition.

Benfica will open their UEFA Champions League campaign against Trabzonspor this week
Benfica will open their UEFA Champions League campaign against Trabzonspor this week ©Getty Images

Two-time European Champion Clubs' Cup winners SL Benfica will be among the big draws as the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round gets under way this week.

Runners-up to treble-winning FC Porto in last season's Portuguese Liga, Jorge Jesus's side take on Trabzonspor AŞ in one of the round's most eye-catching ties. Another which jumps off the page features two teams who met in the group stage two years ago as FC Dynamo Kyiv are reacquainted with FC Rubin Kazan. Rubin will be looking to avenge a 3-1 away defeat, with their home encounter having ended goalless.

While the Russian and Ukrainian leagues are up and running, Rangers FC have barely begun and started their Scottish Premier League defence with a 1-1 draw against Heart of Midlothian FC on Saturday. They now welcome Malmö FF to Ibrox, while NK Dinamo Zagreb – whose domestic campaign began with a 2-0 win against NK Inter Zaprešić – meet a HJK Helsinki side who recorded the biggest UEFA Champions League win yet last week, beating Welsh champions Bangor City FC 10-0 in Finland.

Also emphatic winners in the previous stage were Czech titleholders FC Viktoria Plzeň – 9-1 victors against FC Pyunik over two legs – and they now come up against Rosenborg BK, who triumphed 5-2 against Breidablik. Serbian champions FK Partizan dispatched FK Skendija 79 5-0 in the last round and must now get to grips with Belgium's best, KRC Genk.

Among the other teams opening their European campaigns are runners-up to Genk last term, R. Standard de Liège, who tackle FC Zürich; FC Twente, who meet FC Vaslui of Romania; and Panathinaikos FC, whose attempt to reach the group stage for the second successive season begins against Odense BK. FC København, meanwhile, reached the round of 16 last time out and now face Shamrock Rovers FC for a place in the play-offs.