Champions League to resume on August 7

Arsenal face Besiktas in UCL playoff


Arsenal will have to find a way past Besiktas if they are to qualify for the Champions League group stage after being drawn against the Turkish side in the playoff round of the competition.

The Gunners are aiming to reach the group stage of Europe's elite club competition for a 17th consecutive season, but face a tricky trip to Istanbul, before welcoming Besiktas back to the Emirates Stadium for the second leg.

The Turkish outfit secured their passage to the playoff round after seeing off Feyenoord 5-2, with new signing Demba Ba scoring a hat trick in the second leg of the third qualifying round.

Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil -- born in Germany but of Turkish descent -- is already looking forward to the tie, and took to Twitter immediately after the draw to express his excitement about the upcoming games.

Elsewhere, Serie A side Napoli have been pitted against La Liga outfit Athletic Bilbao in one of the draw's most exciting ties.

Napoli will be determined to reach the group stage of the competition and make up for last season's disappointment after being eliminated from Group F, despite finishing level on 12 points with Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal, who made it through at their expense.

Athletic Bilbao, meanwhile, will be riding high after a successful campaign last term that saw them finish fourth in the Primera Division standings.

Elsewhere in the "League Route" side of the draw -- consisting of teams that failed to win their league last season -- Lille will face 2004 Champions League winners Porto over two legs, while 2002 runners-up Bayer Leverkusen will meet Copenhagen.

In the "Champions Route" side of the draw -- consisting of teams that won their league last season -- Celtic have been pitted against Maribor.

The Scottish side were only reinstated back into the competition on Friday morning after UEFA decided to overturn Legia Warsaw's third qualifying round second-leg win over the Bhoys for fielding an ineligible player.

The playoff ties will be played on August 19/20 and 26/27.

NK Maribor v Celtic
Salzburg v Malmo FF
Aalborg v Apoel
Steaua Bucuresti v Ludogorets
Slovan Bratislava v BATE Borisov
Besiktas v Arsenal
Standard Liege v Zenit St Petersburg
Copenhagen v Bayer Leverkusen
Lille v Porto
Napoli v Athletic Bilbao

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