The first and second qualifying round draws for this year’s UEFA Champions League were conducted in Nyon on Monday, with former European Cup winners Glasgow Celtic and Steaua Bucurest among the clubs to discover their opponents.
Celtic, who defeated Barcelona before being knocked out by Juventus in last season’s Champions League round of 16, have been handed a British derby to kick off the 2013-14 tournament as they face Northern Ireland’s Cliftonville FC, who won last year’s Irish League. Steaua, meanwhile, will face Macedonian First League champions FK Vardar in the second round.
Two other teams from last season’s group stage, BATE Borisov and Dinamo Zagreb, were handed ties against Kazakhstan’s Shakhter Karagandy and Luxembourg’s CS Fola Esch, respectively.
The two legs of the first round will be played on July 2nd-3rd and July 9th-10th while the two legs for the second round games are set for July 16th-17th and July 23rd-24th. The 16 aggregate winners will then enter the third qualifying round before a play-off will decide which teams make the group stage.
Lyon, Zenit St Petersburg and PSV Eindhoven all enter the fold in the third qualifying round. Below is the complete draw:
First qualifying round draw (July 2/3 and 9/10) FC Shirak (Armenia) v. SP Tre Penne (San Marino)
FC Lusitans (Andorra) v. EB/Streymur (Faroe Islands)
Second qualifying round draw (July 16/17 and 23/24) Neftçi PFK (Azerbaijan) v. KS Skënderbeu (Albania)
FC Steaua Bucureşti (Romania) v. FK Vardar (Macedonia)
FC Viktoria Plzeň (Czech Republic) v. FK Željezničar (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
FC Sheriff (Moldova) v. FK Sutjeska (Montenegro)
Birkirkara FC (Malta) v. NK Maribor (Slovenia)
Sligo Rovers FC (Ireland) v. Molde FK (Norway)
IF Elfsborg (Sweden) v. FC Daugava Daugavpils (Latvia)
HJK Helsinki (Finland) v. JK Nõmme Kalju (Estonia)
FK Ekranas (Lithuania) v. FH Hafnarfjördur (Iceland)
The New Saints FC (Wales) v. Legia Warszawa (Poland)
Celtic FC (Scotland) v. Cliftonville FC (Northern Ireland)
GNK Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia) v. CS Fola Esch (Luxembourg)
Győri ETO FC (Hungary) v. Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC (Israel)
FC BATE Borisov (Belarus) v. FC Shakhter Karagandy (Kazakhstan)
FC Shirak (Armenia)/SP Tre Penne (San Marino) v. FK Partizan (Serbia)
ŠK Slovan Bratislava (Slokia) v. PFC Ludogorets Razgrad (Bulgaria)
FC Dinamo Tbilisi (Georgia) v. FC Lusitans (Andorra)/EB/Streymur (Faroe Islands)
Superstars on show: Who needs to shine at Copa America Centenario?
The Copa America Centenario opens in California on Friday, as the stars of North, Central and South America take center stage in the United States.
Well, most of them.
Neymar is out of the tournament thanks to an agreement between Barcelona and Brazil that will allow the superstar to play in August’s Olympics in Rio. And Barca teammate Luis Suarez is expected to miss the group stage for Uruguay while recovering from a hamstring injury.
As usual the focus will be on Lionel Messi and Argentina, whose powerful roster has finished runners-up at the 2014 World Cup and three of the last four Copa America tournaments. Opening with Chile before matches against Bolivia and Panama, Argentina will be expected to make a deep run. Critics know Messi is one of the best players in recent memory, but his failure to land a title outside of the Olympics with a squad that often includes Sergio Aguero (Manchester City), Angel Di Maria, Javier Mascherano and Gonzalo Higuain has haunted him, in a sense, at the international level.
Chile won’t be feeling much pressure after winning the 2015 Copa, albeit in controversial fashion that included whispers of home-cooking and a dirty incident from Gonzalo Jara that pained Uruguay physically and competitively. Still, Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal) and Arturo Vidal (Bayern Munich) will put on a show on American soil in an attempt to repeat. And keep an eye out for Eduardo Vargas, whose production with Chile far exceeds what he’s done at clubs Hoffenheim, QPR, Valencia and Napoli.
Uruguay may be without Suarez for a while — nothing new given his suspension for biting at the World Cup — but Edinson Cavani will look to make amends for his wrongly-given red card in last year’s tournament. Abel Hernandez was dynamite in lifting Hull City back into the Premier League this season, while Uruguay boasts one of the world’s most complete backs in Atletico Madrid’s Diego Godin.
Andres Guardado of Mexico is criminally underrated and one of the best playmakers on the planet. The PSV man is joined on a solid El Tri roster that includes Bayer Leverkusen star striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez.
The USMNT will have to contend with Colombia’s star men, highlighted by James Rodriguez, the Real Madrid forward and star of the 2014 World Cup. Carlos Bacca can also dominate stretches of action for Los Cafeteros.
Neymar is out for Brazil, but holy smoke that roster is terrific. Group B’s favorites will roll out Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho, Chelsea’s Willian, Zenit’s Hulk and Real Madrid’s Casemiro.
Other Premier League players on Copa America rosters
Major League Soccer players on Copa America rosters
Kaka (Brazil / Orlando City)
Kendall Waston (Costa Rica / Vancouver Whitecaps)
Ronald Matarrita (Costa Rica / NYCFC)
Johan Venegas (Costa Rica / Montreal Impact)
Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica / DC United)
Christian Bolanos (Costa Rica / Vancouver Whitecaps) Tim Howard (USMNT / Colorado Rapids)
Matt Besler (USMNT / Sporting KC)
Graham Zusi (USMNT / Sporting KC)
Kyle Beckerman (USMNT / Real Salt Lake)
Michael Bradley (USMNT / Toronto FC) Clint Dempsey (USMNT / Seattle Sounders)
Gyasi Zardes (USMNT / L.A. Galaxy)
Chris Wondolowski (USMNT / San Jose Earthquakes)
Jermaine Jones (USMNT / Colorado Rapids)
Darlington Nagbe (USMNT / Portland Timbers)
Steve Birnbaum (USMNT / DC United)
Nelson Valdez (Paraguay / Seattle Sounders)
Carlos Gruezo (Ecuador / FC Dallas)
Soni Mustivar (Haiti / Sporting KC)
Andre Blake (Jamaica / Philadelphia Union)
Kemar Lawrence (Jamaica / New York Red Bulls)
Jermaine Taylor (Jamaica / Portland Timbers)
Je-Vaughn Waton (Jamaica / New England Revolution)
Giles Barnes (Jamaica / Houston Dynamo)
Simon Dawkins (Jamaica / San Jose Earthquakes)
Anibal Godoy (Panama / San Jose Earthquakes)
Blas Perez (Panama / Vancouver Whitecaps)
Alberto Quintero (Panama / San Jose Earthquakes)
NASL players on Copa America rosters Yasmani Duk (Bolivia / New York Cosmos)
Pascal Millien (Haiti / Jacksonville Armada)
James Marcelin (Haiti / Carolina Railhawks)
Jean Marc Alexandre (Haiti / Fort Lauderdale Strikers)
Jerome Mechack (Haiti / Jacksonville Armada)
USL players on Copa America rosters Ryan Thompson (Jamaica / Saint Louis FC)
Rashford scored 8 goals in 18 appearances since joining the First Team under now-fired manager Louis Van Gaal.
Executive vice chairman Ed Woodward urged patience with the youngster on ManUtd.com:
“Marcus is a naturally talented footballer with great potential. He has taken his chances well and has integrated into the first team very quickly. I am delighted that Marcus has signed a new contract, he is at the right club to continue his development. He is still very young and we need to be patient but he is developing in the right way and we believe he has a great future ahead of him.”
With Rashford and Martial, United has tremendous potential in attack at very young ages. Let’s see if the youngster continues to deliver on this early promise.
Victor Guzman used Pachuca’s first shot on target of the game to score the deciding goal in stoppage time, and Tuzos are champions of Liga MX after a 1-1 draw in Sunday’s second leg of the Liga MX Liguilla final versus Monterrey.
Pachuca entered the game with a 1-0 lead, but found things level early before going down a man. But Guzman out-jumped USMNT left back Edgar Castillo for the title-winning goal, giving fellow U.S. back Omar Gonzalez his first Liga MX crown.
Gonzalez was left out of Jurgen Klinsmann’s final 23-man roster for the Copa America Centenario, which begins Friday against Colombia. Castillo was, too, but was called into replace injured Timmy Chandler.
We doubt Gonzalez is thinking about that much right now. He’s more likely thinking about dancing some more: