Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Arsenal given tough Italian challenge

Arsenal face Serie A side Udinese, while Bayern Munich are happy with their draw against the Swiss side FC Zurich.

Arsenal must overcome Serie A opposition in the shape of Udinese if they are to make it to the Champions League group stages for the 14th successive season.

Arsene Wenger's team were pitted against the Italian side in the draw for the Champions league play-offs held at the Uefa headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, yesterday.

This will be a first ever meeting between Arsenal, the beaten finalists in 2006, and Udinese, who last made it into the group stage that same season.

Yesterday's draw also featured two previous winners of Europe's top club competition, with Bayern Munich facing the Swiss side FC Zurich and Portugal's Benfica up against Dutch league runners-up FC Twente.

Bayern have been crowned champions of Europe four times and their coach Jupp Heynckes said: "This is a game we can win and an interesting task. We have a great opportunity to move into the group stage."

But Heynckes said he would not be taking the Swiss team lightly.

"Swiss football is very strong," he said. "Last season, Zurich finished just one point behind Basel, that says a lot for the quality of the club."

He was relieved, however, to avoid being drawn against Russia's Rubin Kazan, saying: "That would have been a long trip for us".

The Russian team, who beat Barcelona 2-1 in the group stage two seasons ago, will not prove easy pickings for Lyon of France. Rubin booked their play-off place with a 4-1 aggregate qualifying win over Dynamo Kiev.

Malmo, who knocked out Scottish giants Glasgow Rangers in the third qualifying round this week, were rewarded with a matchup against the Croatian league champions Dinamo Zagreb.

Spain's Villarreal play the Danish side Odense, who have never reached the Champions League group stage but who booked their play-off ticket with a 5-4 aggregate win over Panathinaikos of Greece.

Arsenal are forced to go through the play-offs after their end of term collapse which resulted in a fourth-place finish in the Premier League last season. The first leg at their Emirates Stadium will be staged with Wenger serving a one-match touchline ban for using "inappropriate language" at the referee in Arsenal's second-round exit to Barcelona last season.

The official had shown Robin van Persie a second yellow card for shooting at goal just one second after he had blown the whistle for offside - the Dutch striker claimed he had not heard it due to the noise of the 95,000-plus crowd.

The 10 men of Arsenal, who had beaten Barcelona in the first leg, went on to lose 3-1 at the Nou Camp to crash out of Europe.

Samir Nasri, the midfielder, was also sanctioned by Uefa for his outburst at the referee, and will not be available, nor will van Persie, whose suspension was carried over into Arsenal's next European tie.

The first legs will be played on August 16/17 with the second legs on August 23/24.

The 10 play-off winners will then join the 22 automatically qualified teams for the group stage draw due to be staged in Monaco on August 25.

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Glenn Maxwell's knock that followed ensured Brendon McCullum's knock went in vain after his explosive half-century took Chennai Super Kings past the 200-mark. Ravindranath K / The National

All is well with Punjab as Maxwell and Miller seal win against Chennai

The Australian missed out on a century but his 95 runs, along with Miller's unbeaten half-century, ensured Kings XI scaled a mighty peak of a target in a hot first game of Abu Dhabi's double-header.

 Sunderland manager Gus Poyet protests during the Premier League match against Crystal Palace at The Stadium of Light in Sunderland, northeast England, on March 15, 2014. Ian MacNicol / AFP

Sunderland going out of Premier League with a grumble

Northeast club have underwhelmed during seven-year stay in the top flight

 Hamburg players leave the field after the match against Borussia Moenchengladbach on March 30, 2014. AFP

Hamburg the dinosaur’s time may be up in Bundesliga

Ever-present for 51 years in the German top-flight, Hamburg face the prospect of relegation, writes Ian Hawkey.

 At 105 kg, Gabrielle Garcia has dominated the world circuit and loves many things about being in Abu Dhabi. Ravindranath K / The National

Garcia seeks fresh challenge in MMA after her jiu-jitsu domination

Brazilian prides being a lioness in the sport but feels she can shed 25kg weight to pursue her MMA debut aspirations.

 England's Jonathan Trott hits out during the ICC Champions Trophy semi final match against South Africa at The Oval cricket ground, London June 19, 2013. REUTERS/Philip Brown

England’s Jonathan Trott sidelined with stress-related illness again

Jonathan Trott is to take a second break from professional cricket because of his stress-related illness as England and Wales Cricket Board and Warwickshire confirmed he will stop playing with immediate effect.

 Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho looks on during the Premier League match between Swansea City and Chelsea at the Liberty Stadium on April 13, 2014 in Swansea, Wales. Chris Brunskill/Getty Images

‘That’s why we are a top club’ says Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech

Jose Mourinho’s men will temporarily claim the Premier League top spot if they beat Sunderland, leaving them in control of their own destiny in the title race ahead of a crucial trip to face Liverpool at Anfield on April 27.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National