By DAN KARELL
Arsenal’s path to the UEFA Champions League group stage will take them through Turkey for the second consecutive year.
UEFA conducted their draw for the playoff round of both the Champions League and Europa League, with Arsenal drawing Besiktas, who feature former Chelsea forward Demba Ba, a one-time transfer target of Arsene Wenger. FC Porto, Bayer Leverkusen, Napoli, and FC Zenit have all been placed on the league side of the draw as well, with teams such as Celtic, Steaua Bucharest, and Malmo drawn in the Champions route.
Matches in the Champions League playoff rounds will take place over two legs, starting on either Aug. 19/20 and finishing on Aug. 26/27.
The ten winners of the Champions League playoff round will automatically qualify for the group stage, while the losers will move to the Europa League group stage. The Champions League group stage draw will take place on Aug. 28 in Monaco.
Shortly after the conclusion of the Champions League draw, the Europa League draw began, with Tottenham, Inter Milan, and Borussia Mönchengladbach all drawn in the proceedings.
Tottenham were drawn with Cypriot club AEL Limassol FC, Inter Milan was drawn with Icelandic side Stjarnan, and Mönchengladbach were drawn with FK Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The matches will be played over two legs, the first leg taking place on Aug. 21 and the second leg on Aug. 28.
Here’s a look at both the Champions League and Europa League draws:
UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE PLAYOFF DRAW
Beşiktaş JK (TUR) v Arsenal FC (ENG) – 19/27 August
R. Standard de Liège (BEL) v FC Zenit (RUS) – 20/26 August
FC København (DEN) v Bayer 04 Leverkusen (GER) – 19/27 August
LOSC Lille (FRA) v FC Porto (POR) – 20/26 August
SSC Napoli (ITA) v Athletic Club (ESP) – 19/27 August
NK Maribor (SVN) v Celtic FC (SCO) – 20/26 August
FC Salzburg (AUT) v Malmö FF (SWE)- 19/27 August
Aalborg BK (DEN) v APOEL FC (CYP) – 20/26 August
FC Steaua Bucureşti (ROU) v PFC Ludogorets Razgrad (BUL) – 19/27 August
ŠK Slovan Bratislava (SVK) v FC BATE Borisov (BLR) – 20/26 August
UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE EUROPA LEAGUE PLAYOFF DRAW
FK Sarajevo (BIH) v VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach (GER)
FC Astana (KAZ) v Villarreal CF (ESP)
PEC Zwolle (NED) v AC Sparta Praha (CZE)
Asteras Tripolis FC (GRE) v Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC (ISR)
FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk (UKR) v HNK Hajduk Split (CRO)
Qarabağ FK (AZE) v FC Twente (NED)
HJK Helsinki (FIN) v SK Rapid Wien (AUT)
FC Zimbru Chisinau (MDA) v PAOK FC (GRE)
AC Omonia (CYP) v FC Dinamo Moskva (RUS)
Olympique Lyonnais (FRA) v FC Astra (ROU)
Neftçi PFK (AZE)v FK Partizan (SRB)
IF Elfsborg (SWE) v Rio Ave FC (POR)
Kardemir Karabükspor (TUR) v AS Saint-Étienne (FRA)
Panathinaikos FC (GRE) v FC Midtjylland (DEN)
Grasshopper Club (SUI) v Club Brugge KV (BEL)
HNK Rijeka (CRO) v FC Sheriff (MDA)
Apollon Limassol FC (CYP) v FC Lokomotiv Moskva (RUS)
BSC Young Boys (SUI) v Debreceni VSC (HUN)
FC Spartak Trnava (SVK) v FC Zürich (SUI)
AEL Limassol FC (CYP) v Tottenham Hotspur FC (ENG)
FC Dinamo Minsk (BLR) v CD Nacional (POR)
FC Petrolul Ploieşti (ROU) v GNK Dinamo Zagreb (CRO)
Trabzonspor AŞ (TUR) v FC Rostov (RUS)
RNK Split (CRO) v Torino FC (ITA)
FC Aktobe (KAZ) v Legia Warszawa (POL)
KSC Lokeren OV (BEL) v Hull City (ENG)
Ruch Chorzów (POL) v FC Metalist Kharkiv (UKR)
PSV Eindhoven (NED) v FC Shakhtyor Soligorsk (BLR)
Stjarnan (ISL) v FC Internazionale Milano (ITA)
Feyenoord (NED) v FC Zorya Luhansk (UKR)
Real Sociedad de Fútbol (ESP) v FC Krasnodar (RUS)
What do you think of this news? Do you like Arsenal’s draw? Which teams do you see moving to the Champions League group stage? What interesting matchups are you looking forward to?
Share your thoughts below.