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27.08.2008 12:22

In to the draw

Jes˙s Carrillo

FC Barcelona will play in the Champions League for the fifth successive season after beating Wisla Krakˇw over two legs in the preliminary tie and go into the draw for the group stage this week.

The Blaugrana have been in the competition for nine of the last ten campaigns having only missed out in 2003-04, when they played instead in the UEFA Cup for a year. In the last four seasons, under Frank Rijkaard, the Catalan club have played in and progressed from the group stages and won the trophy itself in 2006 when they beat Arsenal in Paris.

Since the European Cup was founded as a competition in 1955, FC Barcelona have participated in the competition on 19 occasions and have won the tournament twice, having been triuphant for the first time in 1992 when they defeated Sampdoria at Wembley.

Juve return

LY6M3725.jpgAlongside Barša in the draw for the Champions League this week, another major name in European football will officially return to the competition with Juventus playing again after two seasons away. The Bianconeri have a grand history in Europe and they will be joined by Panathinaikos, after the Greek team qualified on Tuesday evening, who are coached by former Barša trainer Henk ten Cate.

Wednesday action

The remainder of the second legs of the qualifiers take place on Wednesday evening and there are some big names that have yet to secure their place in the next stage. Ernesto Valverde, who played for Barša, will hope his Olmypiacos side can come back from three goals down against Anorthosis.

AtlÚtico de Madrid still have plenty to do as well after losing their first game in Gelsenkirchen against Schalke 04. Liverpool will need to be at their best to beat Standard Liege at Anfield after drawing the opening encounter, while Fiorentina, Dynamo Kiev, Shakhtar Donetsk and Arsenal are all playing too.

Top seeds

bojancanvimessi.jpgThe principality of Monaco will the setting for the draw for the group stage of the Champions League on Thursday. A total of eight groups containing four teams each will be pulled out. FC Barcelona will be number on seeds along with Real Madrid, Chelsea, Manchester United, Olympique Lyonnais, Inter and Porto. The final top seed will not be known until Arsenal and Liverpool have both played on Wednesday.
In to the draw
No Milan
For the first time in many years AC Milan will not be in the draw after the club's disappointing campaign saw Carlo Ancelotti's team finish in fifth place in Serie A last term.

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