Bayern Munich, Arsenal set for Champs League draw

Bayern Munich and Arsenal will find out on Friday which opponent

they must beat to reach the lucrative group stage of the Champions

League.

Bayern and Arsenal, Champions League finalists in 2010 and 2006

respectively, must win a home-and-away playoff this month to secure

the minimum ?20 million ($28.6 million) payment from UEFA that’s

guaranteed to German and English clubs playing in football’s

most-watched club competition.

Udinese, Lyon and Villarreal also enter as teams from Europe’s

top five leagues begin at the final preliminary round.

Benfica, Odense, Rubin Kazan, Twente and FC Zurich – runners-up

in Europe’s stronger leagues last season who progressed in

qualifying ties this week – are also in a 10-team draw for

non-champions.

In a separate draw, league winners from 10 mid-ranked countries

– including Copenhagen, Dinamo Zagreb and 1979 runner-up Malmo –

will be paired for ties to decide five more places in the 32-team

group stage.

Defending champion Barcelona, beaten finalist Manchester United,

nine-time European champion Real Madrid and seven-time winner AC

Milan head the list of 22 teams which have direct entry. The groups

are drawn Aug. 25 in Monaco.

With playoff-round losers getting just ?2.1 million ($3 million)

and a place in the Europa League as compensation, the stakes are

high for clubs that rely on Champions League revenue and

exposure.

Bayern, a four-time European champion, finds itself at UEFA

headquarters on Friday after finishing third in the Bundesliga,

while Arsenal’s late-season slump left it fourth in the Premier

League.

Both are among the five seeds and could face Udinese, because

the fourth-placed Serie A side has a low UEFA ranking after missing

out on European competition for the past two seasons.

Udinese, however, has since sold its star Chilean winger Alexis

Sanchez to Barcelona and midfielder Gokhan Inler, the Switzerland

captain, to Napoli.

Lyon and Villarreal, both semifinalists in recent seasons, and

two-time winner Benfica are also seeded.

Odense impressed in eliminating Champions League regulars

Panathinaikos after a 4-3 win in Greece on Tuesday, and aims to

give Denmark two group-stage teams for the first time.

Danish champion Copenhagen advanced to the last-16 last season

and is top-seeded among 10 teams in the champions draw, which also

includes APOEL, BATE Borisov, Genk, Maccabi Haifa, Sturm Graz,

Viktoria Plzen and Wisla Krakow.

First leg matches are scheduled to be played Aug. 16 or 17, and

return matches on Aug. 23 or 24.