The teams Celtic could face in next Champions League qualifying round
CELTIC will learn on Friday who their next opponents will be in the qualifying stages of the Champions League after beating HJK Helsinki 4-1 on aggregate.
The Scottish champions could face any one of five European teams.
Helsingborgs won the competitive Allsvenskan, Sweden’s top league, last season, despite losing several key players the previous summer. They play in the small southern city of the same name and have re-established themselves as one of the Scandinavian country’s top teams in recent years. Celtic legend Henrik Larsson enjoyed two successful stints at the club, in 1992-93 and at the end of his career when he was signed by former manager Stuart Baxter in 2006.
Stadium: Olympia, Helsingborg (17,200 capacity)
A trip to Transylvania could be in store for Neil Lennon and his squad if they are drawn against Romanian outfit CFR Cluj. They spent most of their existence in the lower leagues until they received the financial backing of Árpád Pászkány in 2002. They were the first non-Bucharest side to win the league in 2008 and in the following season’s Champions League they exceeded expectations by beating Italian giants Roma 2-1 away and drawing with eventual finalists Chelsea.
Stadium: Dr. Constantin Radulescu stadium, Cluj-Napoca (23,500 capacity)
NK Maribor, to give them their full name, are Slovenia’s most successful side, having won the league title ten times, seven Slovenian Cups and two Slovenian Supercups. Since the arrival of current manager Darko Milanic, the club have enjoyed another period of dominance, winning three out of four championships. The small Ljudski vrt stadium is considered one of the most beautiful in the world by football aficionados and the team boasts a loyal fanbase who have stuck with them through significant social unrest in the country. They have enjoyed recent successes against Scottish opposition, knocking Rangers out of the Europa League last season and beating Hibs 6-2 on aggregate the previous season.
Stadium: Ljudski vrt, Maribor (12,994 capacity)
Hapoel Kiryat Shmona (Israel)
The current Israeli Premier League champions defeated Azerbaijani title holders Neftçi PFK
6 - 2 on aggregate to reach the play-off for the Champions League group stages.
The club were founded in 2000 and play at the Municipal Stadium in Kiryat Shmona which has
a capacity of just over 5,000.
The club finished bottom of Israeli Premier League in 2008/09 and were relegated only to gain
promotion again the following season.
Their last run out in Europe came in 2008 where they reached the second qualifying round of the then UEFA Cup.
AEL Limassol (Cyprus)
The current Cypriot First Division champions overcome Partizan Belgrade and Northern Irish side Linfield to reach the play-off stages of the Champions League.
Their last appearance in Europe came in the UEFA Cup in 2002/03 where they failed to progress beyond the qualifying round.
AEL FC plays in the 14000-seat Tsirion Stadium, also known as the Olympia Stadium.
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Friday 24 May 2013
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