x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Luck of the Champions League draw favours Spurs

The English Premier League side were paired with the Swiss side Young Boys, avoiding the more dangerous teams such as Sampdoria and Dynamo Kiev.

Young Boys' official Alain Baumann, left, and Spurs' Darren Eales with Champions trophy.
Young Boys' official Alain Baumann, left, and Spurs' Darren Eales with Champions trophy.

NYON, SWITZERLAND // Tottenham Hotspur were handed a kind Champions League play-off draw as they attempt to reach the group stage for the first time. The English Premier League side were paired with the Swiss side Young Boys, avoiding the more dangerous teams such as Sampdoria and Dynamo Kiev. Darren Eales, Tottenham's club secretary, said Young Boys would not be underestimated after the Swiss side eliminated Fenerbahce 1-0 in the third qualifying round.

"People will say it is a soft draw," Eales told The Associated Press. "But we are playing against a team that had a great result in Turkey [beating the Turkish heavyweights Fenerbahce in the last round] and already started its league season." Spurs last played in the old European Cup 49 years ago, but finished fourth in the league last season to earn a play-off place in the section for teams from Europe's top-ranked countries.

"There is a real buzz about the club. We have come this far and we want to play in the group stage," Eales said. Spain's Sevilla, who reached the last 16 in 2009/10, were drawn to play another debutant side, Braga of Portugal, for a place among Europe's elite 32 clubs in the competition. A tough Germany vs Italy clash pits Werder Bremen against Sampdoria, the 1992 European Cup losing finalists. In the draw for the Europa League, Europe's second club competition, Liverpool will have to beat Turkish club Trabzonspor to reach the group stage and Juventus need to get past Sturm Graz of Austria.

"Turkey is always a difficult place to go ... especially with the disruption we have had with some of our World Cup players only just returning to training," Liverpool secretary Ian Silvester said. Liverpool, the five-time European champions, were last paired with Trabzonspor in the second round of the 1977 European Cup. Villarreal - Champions League regulars in recent seasons - were drawn at home against Dnepr Mogilev of Belarus, though they could lose their place if Mallorca win an appeal against exclusion by Uefa after they went into financial administration.

Manchester City and CSKA Moscow face long trips. The English side go to Romania for their first leg against Timisoara, and the Russians host Anorthosis before heading to Cyprus for the second leg. * AP