UEFA Champions League: Arsenal draws Besiktas in playoff matchup
Ten of the 32 spots for the UEFA Champions League are still open, to be decided with the 10 playoff matchups drawn on Friday including Arsenal against Turkish side Besiktas.
Before we can see the draw for this year's UEFA Champions League group stage, the final 10 spots still have to be filled through playoff matches. On Friday those pairings were announced.
The winner of each home-and-home will move in to the Champions League pool, completing the 32-team field while the losers will drop into the Europa League for 2014-15, so big stakes are on the line.
English/Barclays Premier League club Arsenal drew a matchup with Turkish side Besiktas, the team of American midfielder Jermaine Jones (at least the team he most recently played for). It's the second straight year Arsenal will face a Turkish team as they look for a 17th straight berth into the Champions League, where 22 of Europe's finest teams already are waiting.
One surprise was the appearance of Scottish club Celtic FC, which didn't actually qualify for its spot in the playoffs but Legia Warsaw was penalized for using a suspended player, giving Celtic a retroactive win and the Polish club's spot in the playoffs.
You can see the draw above and here are the dates from UEFA:
Besiktas JK (TUR) v Arsenal FC (ENG) -- 19/27 August
R. Standard de Liege (BEL) v FC Zenit (RUS) -- 20/26 August
FC Kobenhavn (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 Malmo FF (SWE) -- 19/27 August
Aalborg BK (DEN) v APOEL FC (CYP) -- 20/26 August
FC Steaua Bucuresti (ROU) v PFC Ludogorets Razgrad (BUL) -- 19/27 August
SK Slovan Bratislava (SVK) v FC BATE Borisov (BLR) -- 20/26 August
The draw for the Champions League groups will take place almost immediately after the playoffs on August 28. Real Madrid will look to defend the crown and become the first repeat champs since Inter Milan in 1988-89, 89-90.
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