UEFA Champions League: Third Qualifying Round Kicks Off

Rangers vs. Crvena Zvezda (Red Star Belgrade)

DaMarcus Beasley and his new club will face the Serbian champs at home in the first leg. With already one goal in the competition and the possibility of more racial taunts coming today, we could probably expect a hat-trick from Beasley (only mildly joking). Beasley and Jean-Claude Darcheville’s pace should prove invaluable and ultimately the deciding factor as (incoming generalization) most Serbian defenders have strength but little speed. If Alan Hutton can actually stay on the pitch this time, it would make it much easier for them. Red Star snuck by the Estonian champions FC Levadia Tallinn on away goals in the 2nd round of qualifying, while Rangers beat Montegrin champions FK Zeta soundly.

Benfica vs. FC Copenhagen
Estadio de Luz

The Danish champions look to spoil Freddy Adu’s potential Champions League debut. In various news sources, it looks as if Adu could get the last 20 minutes or so to work with as they stressed that he has only had 7 full days of training. Veteran Swede Marcus Allback (also a former Aston Villa striker) will be the one to cause havoc in the Benfica danger zone. Benfica will most likely not have the full service of Nuno Gomes, but looks to counter that with home advantage and hopefully an impact from new youngster Angel di Maria. Watch the young’uns shine.

Other matchs:

 Lazio vs. Dinamo Bucharest

Italian Serie A stalwarts versus the Romanian champions. Look for Goran Pandev to make his presence well known, while Dinamo will threaten with the likes of Catalin Munteanu (the La Liga/Atletico bust) and former (yet very brief) Fulham Frenchman Fabrice Fernandes.

Valencia vs. Elfsborg

Sharks vs. Minnows in this clash of the Spanish giants with the Swedish champions. Elfsborg’s drive is purely on the backs of Swedish internationals Samuel Holmen, hometown (Boras, Sweden for those asking) hero Matthias Svensson and former So’ton man Anders Svensson. Add that to the recent quenching of a 40 odd year Championship thirst last year. When compared to Quique Flores’ Los Ches, you see the contrast. David Villa, Fernando Morientes, and new signing Nikola Zigic will look to stamp out any hopes that Elfsborg has at Estadio Mestalla to reach the group stages. Zigic is a rather fresh signing though, he’ll most likely not play.

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