Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What happened in Switzerland today

Per Ciljan Skjelbred - Rosenborg BK

Today was the Champions League Qualifying draw. I know most people in Minnesota only know the Champions League as the Ian Leonard weather update. There are some people across the world that only think of it as the competition that is played like the World Cup, starting in group stages with 32 teams before playing towards the finals match.
Alas! There is a qualifying trio of rounds. Every association in Europe has a chance to qualify for the main competition, which is great news for Macedonia, Estonia and Andorra in theory, but usually they get smote early. Still, even with the second round, there is guaranteed to be at least 2 teams that will reach the group stages. Last year, those teams where Zilina (from Slovakia) Partizan (from Serbia) and Hapoel Tel Aviv (from Israel). A couple years ago, Rosenborg, my team from Norway made it all the way to the Group Stage. Last year, they were bumped off in the Play-off Round by FC Copenhagen.
Last year, RBK was able to knock off Linfield from Northern Ireland and AIK from Sweden before losing to Copenhagen. They involved a two legged, home-home match up, with goal differential the deciding factor, with away goals the primary tiebreaker.
Well, early, early this morning (6AM, Minnesota time), the 2011-12 draw for the first two rounds was held. The first round only consists of 4 teams, sort of a play-in game to the real qualifying rounds. The second round draw included Rosenborg, who won their league championship in 2010. They were drawn with Icelandic Club Breidablik, and will play their matches in the middle of July. Probably the best time to be playing matches in Iceland.

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