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Champion trio ready to roll

Holders 1. FFC Frankfurt and the other former winners Umeå IK and 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam get their campaigns started in this week's second qualifying round.

The top seven seeds enter the UEFA Women's Cup from today as the second qualifying round gets under way with holders 1. FFC Frankfurt and the other former winners Umeå IK and 1. FFC Turbine Potsdam in the running.

Holders start defence
Frankfurt, who defeated German rivals Potsdam in May to win back the trophy they last won in the inaugural 2001/02 season, are in Helsinki for Group B1, as the 16 contenders - including nine first qualifying round survivors - chase top-two positions in their pools to reach the quarter-finals. Three of the non-seeds are in with Frankfurt; their first opponents Universitet Vitebsk of Belarus, Iceland's Breidablik and hosts HJK Helsinki. Like in all the groups, the matches are on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.

Potsdam aim
Domestic double-winners last season, Potsdam began their Bundesliga defence this weekend with a 3-2 defeat at SG Essen-Schönebeck, while the European champions were winning 7-0 at VfL Wolfsburg. But Potsdam have not failed to reach the final in their two UEFA Women's Cup campaigns, and just as last year have Dutch side Saestum in their group, having won 2-0 12 months ago. The German side begin Group B3 against Belgium's KFC Rapide Wezemaal, while home team Saestum meet 2005/06 quarter-finalists AC Sparta Praha.

Umeå return
Umeå, winners in 2003 and 2004, missed out on Europe last season having lost the Swedish title to Djurgarden/Älvsjö. However, in 2005 Umeå regained the Swedish crown, and in Norway for Group B2 meet Ukraine's Legend-Chekseal Chernigov, Spanish debutants RCD Espanyol and the home team, 2003/04 quarter-finalists Kolbotn IL who are appearing for the first time since that season.

Rivals rematched
Group B4 may not contain any former winners, but it could prove the most exciting contest. Rematched are Brøndby IF and Arsenal LFC, who met at this stage last season, the Danish side winning 1-0 as both former semi-finalists reached the last eight. But Russian champions and current unbeaten leaders WFC Rossiyanka are the hosts, and meet Arsenal then Brøndby with high hopes. Up against that trio are Hungary's 1. FC Femina Budapest, on their best run in four campaigns.


Second qualifying round (12-17 September)
Group B1
(hosts in bold)
1. FFC Frankfurt (GER, holders)*
HJK Helsinki (FIN)
Universitet Vitebsk (BLR)
Breidablik (ISL)

Group B2
Umeå IK (SWE)*
Kolbotn IK (NOR)*
Legend-Chekseal Chernigov (UKR)
RCD Espanyol (ESP)

Group B3
1. FFC Turbine Potsdam (GER)*
AC Sparta Praha (CZE)*
KFC Rapide Wezemaal (BEL)
Saestum (NED)

Group B4
Brøndby IF (DEN)*
Arsenal LFC (ENG)*
1. FC Femina Budapest (HUN)
WFC Rossiyanka (RUS)

Quarter-finals (11/12 & 18/19 October)
1Runners-up Group B2vWinners Group B1
2Runners-up Group B3vWinners Group B2
3Runners-up Group B4vWinners Group B3
4Runners-up Group B1vWinners Group B4

Semi-finals (4/5 & 11/12 November)
1Winners quarter-final 1vWinners quarter-final 2
2Winners quarter-final 3vWinners quarter-final 4

Final (21/22 & 28/29 April 2007)
1Winners semi-final 1vWinners semi-final 2

(All dates are provisional, first named team home in opening leg)

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