Play-off entrants poised to join the fray

Bayer Leverkusen, Lazio, Manchester United, Sporting CP and Valencia all enter the UEFA Champions League in Friday's play-off draw. UEFA.com examines how they are shaping up.

Manchester United are raring for the UEFA Champions League play-offs
Manchester United are raring for the UEFA Champions League play-offs ©Getty Images

The UEFA Champions League play-off draw is streamed live on UEFA.com at 12CET on Friday with the 15 third qualifying round winners joined by five teams entering at this stage in the league route. UEFA.com examines the teams launching their bids on 18/19 and 25/26 August.

Bayer Leverkusen (GER)
Coach: Roger Schmidt
Star men: Ömer Toprak, Lars Bender, Hakan Çalhanoğlu, Karim Bellarabi
Key summer signing: Admir Mehmedi
Strengths: pressing, counterattacking, set pieces
Possible weaknesses: converting chances, balance between attack and defence
How they qualified: fourth place in the Bundesliga
What they say: "We will do it. I expect the team to set their sights as high as they can." Roger Schmidt

Lazio (ITA)
Coach:
Stefano Pioli
Star men: Felipe Anderson, Lucas Biglia, Antonio Candreva
Key summer signing: Ricardo Kishna
Strengths: attacking wingers with creativity and pace, experienced leader – even when starting from the bench – in Miroslav Klose
Possible weaknesses: former captain Stefano Mauri not really replaced, too reliant on Stefan de Vrij in defence
How they qualified: third in Serie A
What they say: "We have three crucial games in August, the Italian Super Cup and the play-offs; the UEFA Champions League group stage is a priority." Filip Djordjević

United have added Memphis Depay to their ranks
United have added Memphis Depay to their ranks©Getty Images

Manchester United (ENG)
Coach: Louis van Gaal
Star men: Wayne Rooney, David de Gea, Bastian Schweinsteiger
Key summer signing: Memphis Depay
Strengths: European pedigree, coach's experience, winning mentality
Possible weaknesses: unproven defence, lack of No9, go into season not knowing best XI
How they qualified: fourth place in Premier League
What they say: "I feel we have the right squad in terms of hoping to be successful and I think it's an exciting time for the team." Wayne Rooney

Coach Jorge Jesus joined Sporting from Benfica
Coach Jorge Jesus joined Sporting from Benfica©AFP/Getty Images

Sporting CP (POR)
Coach: Jorge Jesus
Star men: Rui Patrício, André Carrillo, Islam Slimani
Key summer signing: Teófilo Gutiérrez
Strengths: technical quality, a high-pressure style of play, creativity in midfield and on the wings
Possible weaknesses: Key midfielder William Carvalho to miss both play-off legs due to injury, new coach has had little time to implement ideas, central defenders lack pace
How they qualified: third in the Portuguese Liga
What they say: "Our team is still on a learning curve in all departments, but we are happy because everyone is willing to work for one goal, which makes everything easier. Good results in pre-season have given us confidence." Jorge Jesus

Valencia boast a solid defence
Valencia boast a solid defence©AFP/Getty Images

Valencia (ESP)
Coach: Nuno Espírito Santo
Star men: Nicolás Otamendi, Daniel Parejo, André Gomes (injured)
Key summer signing: André Gomes (loan made permanent)
Strengths: defence, high pressing, strength in depth
Possible weaknesses: lack of prolific goalscorer, uncertain back-up to goalkeeper Diego Alves
How they qualified: fourth in the Liga
What they say: "Last year we competed against Real Madrid, Atlético and Barcelona. We just need to focus on being 100% and not look at our opponents." Paco Alcácer

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