Paris (AFP) – Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City were handed a relatively easy tie against Romanian side Steaua Bucharest as the Champions League Group phase play-offs were drawn in Nyon on Friday.
“I wanted any team but City,” said a blanched Steaua coach Laurențiu Reghecampf, while City’s sporting director Txiki Begiristain took a cautious approach.
“It’s going to be a difficult tie because Steaua are on the up again in Europe and have a lot of talent,” the Spaniard said.
The other British side in the draw Scotland’s 1967 European Champions Celtic play Hapoel Beer-Sheva of Israel in their desert stadium, while Ireland’s Dundalk take on Polish Champions Legia Warsaw.
The plum ties cast 2004 Champions League winners Porto against Italy’s Roma while Spain’s fourth placed side last season Villarreal take on French third placed side Monaco.
Marcelino the Villarreal coach was happy to avoid Roma but said Monaco would be a tough opponent.
“Roma were the most difficult and then you had Monaco, who were knocked out by Valencia last season, but they’re one of the best sides in France,” he told UEFA.
Two time UEFA Cup winners the German outfit Borussia Mönchengladbach take on Young Boys of Berne while Salzburg drew Croats Dinamo Zagreb, whom are unbeaten in their last four meetings with Dinamo.
Ajax face Russian club Rostov, whose striker Dmitri Poloz was delighted to have landed the legendary four time winners.
“The Dutch are very good opponents, it’s a great draw! Many of us wanted Ajax,” he said.
Copenhagen take on APOEL Nicosia of Cyprus and Bulgaria’s Ludogorets take on Viktoria Plzen of the Czech Republic.
The play-offs are contested over two legs on the 16/17th and 23/24th of August with the winners going into the lucrative Champions League groups phase.
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