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Champions League soccer qualification 2014, round two, with ND Gorica¥s Alen Jogan (left), in action with Rosenborg¥s Harmeet Singh, during their match in Molde, Norway, July 17. (AP)
Zenit open Champs League campaign against Limassol Dnipro back after 25-yr absence, play Copenhagen

NYON, Switzerland, July 18, (AFP): Zenit Saint-Petersburg will open their Champions League campaign against AEL Limassol following the draw for the third qualifying round made in Nyon, Switzerland on Friday. Andre Villas-Boas’s Zenit advanced to the round of 16 last season, while Cypriot side AEL last reached the group stage in 2012-2013 season. FC Copenhagen were drawn against Ukrainian side FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk, who are back in the competition after a 25-year absence. There will also be a first meeting of Dutch side Feyenoord and Turkey’s Besiktas and Swiss outfit Grasshopper Zurich and Ligue 1 side Lille. “Avoiding long journeys is always better,” said Lille coach Rene Girard, whose side finished third in Ligue 1 last season. “But that doesn’t mean it will be easy, quite the contrary,” he added.

“This is a reference team in Switzerland so we have a lot of respect for them. It will be good for Lille. It will not be easy, but with games like this we grow.” The only teams to have played before in the league route are Belgian club Standard Liege who host Panathinaikos of Greece for the first leg of their tie. In the champions route, 2011/12 quarter-finalists APOEL FC open against FK Rabotnicki or Helsinki, and two-time group stage participants Aalborg BK were drawn with GNK Dinamo Zagreb or VMFD Zalgiris.

The third qualifying round takes place over two legs on July 29/30 and August 5/6. The 15 qualifiers from this round advance to the play-offs where they will be up against Arsenal, FC Porto, Bayer Leverkusen, Napoli and Athletic Bilbao.
 
League Route:
AEL Limassol (CHY) v Zenit Saint-Petersburg (RUS)
Dniepropetrovsk (UKR) v FC Copenhagen (DEN)
Feyenoord (NED) v Besiktas (TUR)
Grasshopper Zurich (SUI) v Lille (FRA)
Standard Liege (BEL) v Panathinaikos (GRE)
Games will be played July 29/30 and August 5/6
 
Champions Route:
Group 1:
Valetta (MLT) or Qarabag (AZE) v FC Salzburg (AUT)
Cliftonville (IRL) or Debrecen (HUN) v BATE Borisov (BLR) or Skenderbeu (ALB)
Slovan Bratislava (SVK) or The New Saints (WAL) v FC Sheriff (MDA) or FK Sutjeska (MNE)
Aalborg (DEN) v Dinamo Zagreb (CRO) or Zalgiris (LTU)
Legia Warsaw (POL) or Saint Patrick’s Athletic (IRL) v KR Reykjavik (ISL) or Celtic (SCO)
 
Champions Route:
Group 2:
Dinamo Tbilissi (GEO) or FK Aktobe (KAZ) v Stromsgodset (NOR) or Steaua Bucharest (ROM)
HSK Zrinjski Mostar (BIH) or Maribor (SVN) v Santa Coloma (AND) or Maccabi Tel Aviv (ISR)
Rabotnicki (MKD) or Helsinki (FIN) v Apoel FC (CHY)
Sparta Prague (CZE) or Levadia Tallinn (EST) v Malmo (SWE) or FK Ventspils (LVA)
Lodogorets Razgrad (BUL) or Dudelange (LUX) v Partizan Belgrade (SRB) or Thorshavn (FAR)
Fixture dates for the Champions Route to be confirmed at a later date.

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