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UEFA Cup draw

Bayern set to enter unfamiliar territory

Groclin Grodzisk Wielkopolski of Poland, Macedonian outfit FK Rabotnicki Skopje, Irish League side Drogheda United, FC Midtjylland from Denmark and Armenian club FC Mika Eriwan may not be especially familiar names to anyone outside their own local support and truly well-informed football stattos.

Ottmar Hitzfeld and his men may soon be learning a lot more about one of them, as they are all potential opponents in the UEFA Cup first round. “We’ll take what comes and approach the tie appropriately,” the Bayern coach commented ahead of Friday’s draw in Monaco.

80 contenders

After a decade in the Champions League, Bayern’s return to the UEFA Cup is likely to see them entering unfamiliar territory. “We’re all intrigued about who we might draw,” Philipp Lahm declared. The Germany international is one of the few members of the current squad with experience of the UEFA Cup, picked up in the 2004-5 campaign with VfB Stuttgart.

Hitzfeld and his men may be required to undertake an arduous journey, but are unlikely to face a big-name rival, as the 80 clubs involved in the first round are divided into eight groups of ten teams according to certain regional criteria. The teams will not be finally sorted into pots until the final round of qualifiers on Thursday evening.

First leg on 20 September

Bayern cannot be drawn against fellow German opponents in the first round. Ties will be played on 20 September and 4 October. The draw for the Group phase, which begins on 25 October, takes place at midday on 9 October in Nyon. The 40 first round winners are drawn into eight groups of five, with each club playing two games at home and two away. The top three in each group progress to the knockout stage.

As of that point, the Reds could do battle with higher profile teams such as Girondins Bordeaux, Tottenham Hotspur or Fiorentina, but for now, the likes of Lithuanian representatives SK Liepajas Metalurgs or NK Siroki Brijeg from Bosnia-Herzegovina will provide the opposition. All will become clear on Friday afternoon at around 1.30 pm.