Champions League - Playoff Round

The Champions League kicks off on 21st August 2012 and the 42 entrants to this year’s competition are now confirmed.

Only 20 will have the honour of playing in the play-off round with 10 teams to qualify, 5 champions and 5 non-champions.

Draw tomorrow for this round is at 11am Fir Park time.

Champions Route:

BATE Borisov
Dinamo Zagreb

Ironi Kryat Shmona

Non-Champions Route:

Dynamo Kiev
Spartak Moscow

Borussia Moenchengladbach

These matches are part of the Champions League tournament so expect the pre-match anthem, the official advertising, central broadcasting rights etc. Matches on 21st and 22nd August and the return games are on 28th and 29th August.

The unseeded non-champions group looks much stronger.

I’d rather avoid Cluj if possible, we really should be getting past any of these sides.

Cluj are the most obvious one to avoid alright. I’m still concerned by the Israelis. Their club sides have been decent in recent years so they must be decent to come from nowhere and win that league.

Yeah, the Israelis would be the other side to avoid, don’t fancy a trip over there. Think Maribor or Helsinborg would be the best draw.

Rocko, i owe you a decent post on Ironi Kiryat Shmona…
ill throw it up before the draw tomorrow

Thanks Michael - much appreciated.

Mickee, which players would you regard as the best in the Israeli league at the moment and how highly do you rate Omer Damari?

Hi Totti,
for a start i really enjoy reading your posts on italian and scottish football, you take a very critical, but interesting angle on Celtic that i fins a little harsh but after watching them last night illl take it with you in another thread.

the israeli league has suffered from a large amount of players leaving for foreign clubs and more money over the last few years.
the Hapoel TA team that competed in the 2010-11 group stages CL, beating Benfica 3-0, and drawing away in Lyon was the strongest team we have seen in israel in some time, that time has now broken up , this was also the team that beat celtic 2-1 out here in september 2009,
notable players who left that team were Ita Shecter to Kaiserlautern, Gili Vermouth to Das Grampshamp ( sp), Eran Zehavi to Palermo, Ben Shahar ( auxerre) and keeper victor enyemma to Lille, Israel hasnt seen a team as strong as that since and too be honest the last 2 leagues were pretty unisnspiring

Ill start with Hapoel Tel Aviv and Damari, damari is a decent footballer, and usually plays upfront with Eliroie Coehn and / or Toto tamuz, Hapoel have a 3 million dollar buy out clause on his contract ( 5 years ) that he signed i think from petach tikwa at the beginning of last seeson, he scored 16 goals last year and was pretty prolific against lower standard oposition, erra he is a typical israeli football ( exclude kayal), think more Benayoun, very slight, skillful but to be honest ill need to see another season of him at the top flight to make a good opinion of him,
Eliroie Cohen is a fine young striker with Hapoel, direct, strong and is a player i rate very highly
Hapeol had a disaster last season, the riot at the end of the tel viv derby last feburary and the points deduction / ground closure screwed them financially, also that resulted in long bans for Saleem Toama and Domari, they are a club in in crisis , have signed no one of note on the close season and are broke, i fear for Hapoel this year really, and i imagine come Janaury any half decent bids for Domari and or Cohen will be accepted…

For me the best footballer in Israel is Eliran Atar of Maccabi Tel Aviv, he signed 3 years ago from Beni Yehuda, an out and out front man, he is the most gifted player in this league by a long way and i saw him play some fine stuff last year…
Maccabi are the sleeping giant of this league, won nothing since 2005, this season Yordi Cruyff has taken over as director of football arriving from AEK Larnaca and Oscar Garcia , ex barclona youth team coach has taken over in charge, so big things are expected this year

as for kiryat shmona, a small town of 35.000 people on the syrian border, they won a poor league last year, Barak Badah who looks a bit like Zlatan is their main man along with Darko Tasevski from Macedonia, they won the league here by a country mile last year profiting on the turmoil of the other clubs and mass points deductions…

Atar is your man Totti, keep an eye out out for him. also honourable mentions to Amt Ben Shushan and Eran Levy from bankrupt Beitar Jeruasalem, no thanks to Arkadi Gaydammak, ( his father destroyed portsmouth) where i am a season ticket holder who has destroyed this club, next season could be tough…

Celtic’s Champions League draw is coming up now. The Irish nation holds its breath.

It’s Helsingborgs, bhoys.

loving the commnetary on the draw here on as he talks over the lads doing the honours…
Tension is palpable

predictions anyone?

cluj vs celtic
kiryat shmona vs anderlect

bit late with that post…

cletic - helisingborg
kiryat shmoina - BATE

both celtic and kiryat shmona will be happy with that

An okay draw.

What’s the feeling, bhoys?

Helsingborgs beat Slask Wroclaw in the last round after beating Total Network Solutions of the Welsh league in the first round.
Interestingly the welsh side held them scoreless in the first leg in wales , however they have just beat the poles 6-1 on aggregate , they will be mid season by now so match fitness shouldnt be an issue…

Their 3-0 away win in the first leg in Poland caught my eye alright. But are Slask Wroclaw any good? Balbec?

It’s the first time Celtic will face a Swedish side in European competition.

I had a feeling we would get Helsingborgs at some stage after Ireland and Sweden were drawn together in the same World Cup qualifying group.

i really dont know too much about the swedish league at the moment but from looking at their results in the UEFA cup last night , AIK solna beat Lech Poznan 3-1 on agg and Young Boys Bern put out Kalmar 3-1 on agg also
there was a time 2005 - 2008 when Cork beat Malmo and Djugardens, Derry beat IFK Goteburg and Drogheda were famously beaten on spotters by a Henrik Larsson led Helsignborgs at Dalymount Park, but the Swedish league may have improved a bit since then , not quite back to the heady day of Gotendurg beating Man United in the 1994 CL or Malmo getting to a european cup final in 79 however…
let me do a bit of investigation on their squad, fanbase, etc, and we will see what we find…

what was the last swedish team to make the group stages of the CL, think it was AIK Solna in maybe 1996??, remember them playing against Arsenal in Wembley when Highbury was not available

Helishburg made the group stages around 2000/2001. They knocked out Inter Milan who Robbie Keane was just after joining

Saw a mention on Twitter of Helsingborgs IF themselves making the group stage in 2000 or 2001, mickee.

They changed manager in June and are 6th in a tight league this season.

Slask would not be great. They were surprise winners of league because Legia messed up at the end. And they were in pre-season. They were beaten handily.