After today’s Champions League qualifying match saw Bundesliga side Werder Bremen dismantle their Serie A opposition, it will be interesting to see if Bundeslifa sides Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund can fight their way into qualification for the Europa League.
Bayer Leverkusen will take on Ukrainian side Tavriya Simferopol, who finished in 6th position last season in the Ukrainian first division. The pressure will be on Leverkusen to advance here, and so it should be. Unfortunately, we’ve seen upsets occur time and again in European competition; most recently with England’s Tottenham Hotspur succumbing to a 3-2 loss to Swiss side Young Boys in the first leg of that Champions League qualifying fixture.
Leverkusen will be the favourites here and will have to play up to the tie. Simferopol are a side with only two players who have ever represented their national side; the odds will be heavily on a comfortable Leverkusen victory.
Meanwhile, Borussia Dortmund will face FC Qarabag, a side from Azerbaijan. Borussia Dortmund, like Leverkusen, will be heavy favourites to win the tie comfortably. Qarabag are a side almost fully equipped with Azerbaijani players, and for them this chance to impress against one of Europe’s biggest sides is a one in a lifetime opportunity. Dortmund, meanwhile, will know that they must get the job done in Azerbaijan and move on.
Both Bundesliga sides should cruise into the group stages of the Europa League, but both sides will have one eye on the weekend with the Bundesliga season – and quite a few testing fixtures – just around the corner.