Premier League outfit Arsenal will face Turkish giants Fenerbahce in the Champions League play-off, while Celtic are drawn against Shakhter Karagandy, from the Kazakhstan Premier League.
There is however uncertianty regarding the future of Fenerbahce in this competition as the Turkish club was handed a two-year European ban by the European governing body, UEFA, over issues relating to domestic match-fixing.
However, they have been re-admitted in the Champions League as their appeal at CAS is still pending. Things can go bit complicated, if they progress through to the group stages round and still lose their appeal. The verdict will be announced after the qualifying round and their future largely depends on the outcome of this fixture.
Among other notable fixtures, La Liga outfit Real Sociedad, who edged Valencia to cement a place in top four will face French outfit Lyon. German club Schalke 04 can also progress to the next stage if they manage to win against the Ukrainian club FC Metalist Kharkiv.
Swiss club FC Basel will face Bulgerian outfit Ludogorets while Eredevise giants PSV will take on Massimiliano Allegri’s AC Milan.
Arsenal face a potentially tricky opponent and there is no guarantee that they will surely qualify. Fenerbahce have nothing to lose here but can gain something if they knock out the London giants. It is worth reminding that Arsene Wenger doesn’t have any great records against the Turkish clubs and it will be interesting to see how they handle the pressure in hostile territories. If Fenerbahce beat Arsenal and their ban is subsequently upheld, they’ll be replaced in the group stages by Bursaspor.
Full draw for the Champions League play-off round:
Dinamo Zagreb v FK Austria Vienna, Ludogorets v Basle, Plzen v Maribor, Shakhter Karaganda v Celtic, Steaua Bucuresti v Legia Warsaw, Lyon v Real Sociedad, Schalke 04 v FC Metalist Kharkiv, Pacos Ferreira v Zenit St Petersburg, PSV v AC Milan, Fenerbahce v Arsenal.
All the matches will be played on August 20-21 and August 27-28.