Champions League: Decent draws for Man City, Celtic and Dundalk

Stephen Kenny is the brains behind Dundalk's run to the Champions League play-off round
Stephen Kenny is the brains behind Dundalk's run to the Champions League play-off round

The three British and Irish Champions League play-off round participants found out who stands between them and the group stage...

"Man City were paired with Steaua Bucharest, which has to be considered a far less daunting prospect than a double header with Roma or Monaco. The Citizens are fifth favourites in the winner betting at 13.5."

There is still a puncher's chance of six British and Irish sides competing in the Champions League group stage after Manchester City, Celtic and Dundalk were all treated relatively kindly in the play-off draw.

Manchester City, who were the only one of the trio in the non-champions section of the draw, were paired with Steaua Bucharest, which has to be considered a far less daunting prospect than a double header with Roma or Monaco and geographically more favourable than a trip to Rostov.

The Romanian team were champions of Europe in 1985/86 and reached the UEFA Cup semi-finals in 2005/06, but have struggled to make an impact this decade, last getting as far as the Champions League group stage three years ago, exiting at this point two years ago and a round earlier last term.

Pep Guardiola has sampled the preliminaries just once before, in his first season at Barcelona, and enjoyed serene progress, beating Wisla Krakow 4-0 in the first leg at Camp Nou, meaning that they could afford a 1-0 loss in the return. The Citizens are fifth favourites in the winner betting at 13.5.

The Guardiola guide to defeating Polish opposition would come in handy to Dundalk, who will become the first ever Irish club to reach the group stage if they can find a way past Legia Warsaw.

Stephen Kenny's men earned the priceless opportunity with an outstanding 3-0 victory over recent Bayern Munich and Roma conquerors BATE Borisov, having seen off Iceland's FH in the second qualifying round.

As they were unseeded, there was a possibility that they would be matched with Celtic, but the Scottish title holders will instead take on Hapoel Be'er Sheva, which again seems like a positive situation given that the alternatives included Copenhagen and qualifying specialists Dinamo Zagreb.

By contrast, the Israeli side have never been in this position before and even in past UEFA Cup, Cup Winners' Cup and Europa League campaigns have never advanced beyond round one.

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