Vol. 4 Num 61 Sat. July 26, 2003  

UEFA Champs League
Benfica v Celtic pick of the draw

Italian side Lazio were drawn against Portugal's Benfica Wednesday in the outstanding clash of next month's European Champions League draw for clubs seeking entry into the lucrative group stage.

The Italian first division club, who finished fourth last season, are aiming to join Serie A rivals Juventus, Inter Milan and holders AC Milan in the first group stage.

Newcastle, who reached the second group stage against all the odds last season after losing their first three matches of the opening phase, will face Partizan Belgrade or Swedish side Djurgarden in the third qualifying round.

Chelsea have been drawn against Slovakian side SK Zilina or Maccabi Tel Aviv of Israel.

Chelsea lost 3-1 on aggregate to Hapoel Tel Aviv in the UEFA Cup two seasons ago when a number of players refused to travel because of security concerns.

Chelsea's Russian owner Roman Abramovich will want his team to take their place in the group stages of the world's most lucrative club competition after spending 34 million pounds on players so far this summer.

They were beaten in the UEFA Cup first round by Viking Stavanger of Norway last year.

Scottish champions Rangers will face FC Copenhagen of Denmark or Maltese side Sliema Wanderers.

They are aiming to reach the Champions League group stage for the first time since the 2000-01 season.

Last season's UEFA Cup finalists Celtic play MTK Hungaria Budapest or HJK Helsinki if they beat Lithuanian side FBK Kaunas in the second qualifying round.

Sixteen teams qualify for the group stage where they join holders AC Milan, Juventus, Inter Milan, Manchester United, Arsenal, Bayern Munich, VfB Stuttgart, Olympique Lyon, Monaco, Real Madrid, Real Sociedad, Olympiakos, Panathinaikos, PSV Eindhoven, Besiktas and Porto.