The Football Association Challenege Cup Champions, Arsenal
FC will enter the 2014-2015 Champions League at the playoff round, as they did this past year, overcoming Fenerbache easily over 2 legs.
In case you don't recall how the draw for the layoff round works, here is a quick refresher:
Arsenal will be placed in the non-champions side of the playoff, along with 9 other non-champions from some of the top and mid-level leagues in Europe. These 10 teams will be paired up, with the 5 winners advancing to the all-important Champions League Group stage of Money.
Importantly, the draw for the playoff is seeded by UEFA coefficient, which is good because Arsenal will have the highest of the group of 10 teams. This means that they will not be drawn against the next 4 highest seeded teams. Those teams that they will not face are:
Porto (3rd Portugal)
Leverkusen (4th Germany)
Napoli (3rd Italy)
Zenit (2nd Russia) *If Zenit wins their 3rd qualifying round matchup, otherwise it will be Bilbao (4th Spain)
So with those fairly good teams out of the way who then might Arsenal face? Well they will be drawn against 1 of the 5 winners from round 3 of qualifying. Those 10 possible teams are:
*Zenit (higher coefficient than Bilbao, so Bilbao remains a possibility)
Lille (3rd France)
Copenhagen (2nd Denmark)
Standard Liege (2nd Belgium)
Besiktas (3rd Turkey *Because 1st Fenerbache is banned from UEFA competition)
Dnipro (2nd Ukraine)
Panathinaikos (4th Greece *Won Superleague Playoffs)
Feyenoord (2nd Netherlands)
Grasshopper (2nd Switzerland)
APOEL (3rd Cyprus * Runner up is Cypriot Championship group)
Overall not a team that should really cause Arsenal too much worry over a 2 leg playoff, but certainly not a group of teams to take lightly either. It will be interesting to see who we get when the playoff draw is made on August 8th. Games to be played on the 19th/20th and 26th/27th of August, with the group stage draw to follow on the 28th (Arsenal will get Dortmund, Napoli, and Monaco in that one, book it.)
2 days after the season is over and I am ready to start the next one.