The Champions League playoff draw took place Friday morning and gave us some fascinating matchups.
Liverpool, via their fourth-place finish in the Premier League last season, is required to play through the playoff round and was drawn against Bundesliga side Hoffenheim, sending Jurgen Klopp back to face a German opponent. Hoffenheim qualified after also finishing fourth during their league season with a whopping 13-point gap between them and fifth-placed Koln.
Elsewhere, Nice will hope to have Mario Balotelli back from injury when they take on Marek Hamsik and Napoli. The French side finished third in the Ligue 1 table last season, challenging for the title for much of the year before falling off late. Napoli also finished third last season, in a vicious battle with Roma all year long for second, losing out by a single point on the final day.
Spanish club Sevilla, in the playoff thanks to their fourth-place finish last season in La Liga, takes on surprise Turkish league runners up Istanbul Basaksehir. The Turkish club beat out both Galatasaray and Fenerbahce for the second and final Champions League spot in the Turkish league.
Portuguese side Sporting CP, who heads to the playoff round thanks to a third-place finish last season behind both Porto and Benfica, will take on Romanian league runners up Steaua Bucuresti. The Romanian side was beaten to the league title last season by Viitorul Constanta, but while Bucuresti got past third round opponents Viktoria Plzen by a 6-3 aggregate, Constanta was beaten by Cypriot club APOEL, knocking them out of the competition.
Celtic, after squeaking by Norwegian club Rosenborg in the last round by a 1-0 aggregate, has been drawn against Kazakhstani club Astana. Russian side CSKA Moscow pulled Swiss Super League runners up Young Boys. Greek champions Olympiakos drew Croatian champions Rijeka, who beat Dinamo Zagreb to the title by two points last season.