Germany Soccer Champions League

UEFA Champions League play-off draw: Arsenal face Besiktas, Celtic back in

Leave a comment

On Friday the draw for the final qualifying stage of the UEFA Champions League was made.

Premier League side Arsenal face a tricky trip to Istanbul to play Turkish outfit Besiktas home and away for a place in the UCL knockout stages.

[RELATED: Celtic reinstated to UCL]

The Gunners made it to the last 16 in 2013-14 but were knocked out by Bayern Munich and have struggled to make waves in Europe’s elite club competition for some time.

As for the other British side in the mix, Celtic were sensationally reinstated on Friday morning after being beaten by Legia Warsaw in the third-qualifying round but the Polish outfit fielded an ineligible player so Celtic were sent through and now face Slovenian champions Maribor for a place in the group stages.

Elsewhere the tie of the round is arguably Spanish side Athletic Bilbao going up against Napoli, as both teams plays attractive soccer and will add some spice to the group stages if they make it through. Lille vs. Porto and FC Copenhagen vs. Bayer Leverkusen also catch the eye.

Below is the draw in full, as you can already start to hear that Champions League music building up in your head.

UEFA Champions League play-off draw, ties to be played August 19/20 & 26/27

Maribor vs. Celtic
Salzburg vs. Malmo
Aalborg vs. Apoel Nicosia
Steaua Bucharest vs. Ludogorets
Slovan Bratislava vs. BATE Borisov
Besiktas vs. Arsenal
Standard Liege vs. Zenit St. Petersburg
FC Copenhagen vs. Bayer Leverkusen
Lille vs. Porto
Napoli vs. Athletic Bilbao

Newcastle’s Krul on crutches after injury in Dutch win

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 03:  Tim Krul of Newcastle United looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Newcastle United at Etihad Stadium on October 3, 2015 in Manchester, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Newcastle United’s horror start under Steve McClaren just got worse.

Magpies No. 1 goalkeeper Tim Krul is on duty with the Netherlands, and was forced from the Dutch’s 2-1 win at Kazakhstan in Euro qualifying action.

[ MORE: Ultimate guide to USMNT vs. Mexico ]

Krul left the game after landing awkwardly on his knee, and left the stadium on crutches.

Newcastle’s back-up keepers are Karl Darlow, new from Nottingham Forest, and veteran Rob Elliot.

The Magpies are in 20th place, without a win through eight Premier League matches.

McClaren’s crew just finished a brutal run of matches that saw Newcastle face Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United.

VIDEO: Marco Verratti plays a brilliant pass to Eder for Italy goal

PALERMO, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 06:  Marco Verratti of Italy in action during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier match between Italy and Bulgaria on September 6, 2015 in Palermo, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Italy took a 1-0 lead over Azerbaijan through the in-form Eder in the 11th minute, but the true leg-work (see what I did there) came from bite-sized midfielder Marco Verratti.

The PSG playmaker pinged a beautiful long ball over the top of the Azerbaijan defense that fell right at the feet of Eder, who let the ball settle itself and touched home confidently past Kamran Arhayev for a 1-0 lead.

The goal is the second of Eder’s national career in just five caps, having scored on debut against Bulgaria back in March. He has six goals in seven matches for Sampdoria so far this Serie A season.

Italy needs three points in this match to ensure qualification to Euro 2016. A win would guarantee them a place in the field, while anything less would mean there is work to do in the final match on Tuesday against Norway.


Later in the match, Stephan El Shaarawy gave Italy a 2-1 lead just before halftime, his second career international goal and his first since September of 2012 which came in his third career start.