Sides step up European challenge

Former European champions Celtic FC and FC Steaua Bucuresti and holders Liverpool FC are in action this week.

Newcomers await
Celtic, winners in 1967, travel to Slovakia for the first leg of their tie with competition newcomers FC Artmedia Bratislava on Wednesday, while Steaua are also on their travels, journeying to the Republic of Ireland to face Shelbourne FC. The Irish team will be buoyant after winning both legs of a European tie for the first time in the first qualifying round.

Daunting task
History was also made in Luxembourg and a week after becoming their country's first side to win a Champions League tie, F91 Dudelange will host SK Rapid Wien. PFC Neftchi play RSC Anderlecht in Belgium, while FC Thun have a daunting trip to FC Dynamo Kyiv.

Scandinavian derby
Anorthosis Famagusta FC will be in the comfort of their Cypriot home on Tuesday but the sight of Turkish side Trabzonspor makes their task no less overwhelming. There is a Scandinavian derby in Norway where Vålerenga IF welcome FC Haka, while Brøndby IF visit Georgia to tackle FC Dinamo Tbilisi.

Liverpool in Lithuania
A fourth team from the region enter the fray on Wednesday, when Malmö FF entertain Maccabi Haifa FC in Sweden. But all eyes will be on Lithuania, where holders Liverpool FC will play their third match of the season against FBK Kaunas - pitting together the two sides that enjoyed the biggest aggregate winning margins in the last round.

Potential mismatches
FK Rabotnicki also enjoyed an emphatic overall victory in the opening stage, but will have to strike a rich vein of form to repeat the feat at home to FC Lokomotiv Moskva. Moldova's FC Sheriff also face an uphill struggle against FK Partizan in Belgrade.

Balkan sides
Finally, there are three Balkan teams in action as PFC CSKA Sofia and KF Tirana meet in the Albanian capital, while HNK Hajduk Split cross the border to Hungary where they will encounter Debreceni VSC.

UEFA Champions League second qualifying round
First-leg matches: 26/27 July 2005
Second-leg matches: 2/3 August 2005
FBK Kaunas (LIT) v Liverpool FC (ENG, holders)
FC Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO) v Brøndby IF (DEN)
FK Partizan (SCG) v FC Sheriff (MDA)
Debreceni VSC (HUN) v HNK Hajduk Split (CRO)
FC Artmedia Bratislava (SVK) v Celtic FC (SCO)
KF Tirana (ALB) v PFC CSKA Sofia (BUL)
RSC Anderlecht (BEL) v PFC Neftchi (AZE)
Vålerenga IF (NOR) v FC Haka (FIN)
FK Rabotnicki (MKD) v FC Lokomotiv Moskva (RUS)
F91 Dudelange (LUX) v SK Rapid Wien (AUT)
FC Dynamo Kyiv (UKR) v FC Thun (SUI)
Malmö FF (SWE) v Maccabi Haifa FC (ISR)
Shelbourne FC (IRL) v FC Steaua Bucuresti (ROU)
Anorthosis Famagusta FC (CYP) v Trabzonspor (TUR)

Third qualifying round draw: 29 July, 12.00CET, Nyon
Group stage draw: 25 August, 16.00CET, Monaco