Football: Juventus are first test for United

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The Independent Online
Manchester United will open their European Champions' League campaign away to the holders, Juventus, with their hopes strengthened by the rule changes which have removed the limits on the number of foreign players they can field.

Alex Ferguson, the United manager, said: "It'll be quite a challenge right away. Marcello Lippi [the Juventus coach] is an outstanding manager, probably the best coach in Italy, and he knows exactly what he's doing."

The Juventus managing director, Luciano Moggi, whose side entertain United in Turin on 11 September, reciprocated the sentiment: "Manchester United are one of the biggest teams in Europe and they have a great manager. Our games against them will be very tough but at this stage there are no easy games."

United, so impressive in the Premiership in the 1990s, have been abject failures in their last two European outings, but must hope they stand a realistic chance of progressing from the group stage to the quarter- finals. However, Ferguson will hope that his injury list, which includes Keane,Cantona, Cole and Phil Neville, does not get any longer.

The two other teams in Group C are last year's Cup-Winner's Cup runners- up, Rapid Vienna, and Fenerbahce of Turkey. The prospect of Istanbul opposition will not be greeted with enthusiasm by the English champions. Last time they were there, they not only lost to Galatasaray but were also subject to off-field assaults.

The Scottish champions, Rangers, have been given a tough task again this year, drawn in Group A with the Dutch maestros Ajax, the French champions, Auxerre, and Grasshopper Zurich of Switzerland. The Rangers manager, Walter Smith, named Ajax as favourites in what he called "a very competitive group. "We have to do better against them than we did last year against Juventus," he said.

In the Cup-Winner's Cup, Liverpool will meet MyPa-47 of Finland, with the first leg away from home in Anjalankoski. Liverpool were knocked out of last season's Uefa cup by the Danish side, Brondby, while MyPa progressed as far as the first round, beating Motherwell in the preliminaries before going out 7-1 to PSV Eindhoven of the Netherlands.

Britain's six other teams in European competition all play in the Uefa Cup, with two who qualified in opposing style on Tuesday meeting each other in the first round. Barry Town, of the League of Wales, who progressed on penalties against the Hungarians, BVSC-Dreher, play Aberdeen, who scraped through 5-4 on aggregate after losing 3-1 at Pittodrie to Zalgiris Vilnius of Lithuania.

Barry's player-coach, Garry Barnett, is optimistic about the draw. "The lads wanted Inter Milan or Newcastle, obviously, but we're very happy with what we've got." The club will play the home second leg of the tie at their Jenner Park ground, and they hope to increase the 2,500 capacity to 6,000 with a temporary stand. "It's going to give our players a good test. We'll do the League of Wales proud," Barnett added.

In the other Uefa Cup matches, Newcastle and Aston Villa both start with home first-leg ties against Swedish opposition, playing Halmstads and Helsingborgs respectively.

Arsenal and Celtic also begin at home - against tough German opposition. Arsenal will meet Borussia Monchengladbach, while Celtic were drawn against Hamburg.

European draws

Champions' League

GROUP A: Sept 11: Auxerre (Fr) v Ajax; Grasshopper Zurich v Rangers. Sept 25: Rangers v Auxerre; Ajax v Grasshopper. Oct 16: Auxerre v Grasshopper; Ajax v Rangers. Oct 30: Rangers v Ajax; Grasshoppers v Auxerre. Nov 20: Rangers v Grasshopper; Ajax v Auxerre. Dec 4: Auxerre v Rangers; Grasshopper v Ajax.

GROUP B: Sept 11: Atletico Madrid v Steaua Bucharest (Rom); Borussia Dortmund (Ger) v Widzew Lodz (Pol). Sept 25: Widzew Lodz v Atletico Madrid; Steaua Bucharest v Borussia Dortmund. Oct 16: Atletico Madrid v Borussia Dortmund; Steaua Bucharest v Widzew Lodz. Oct 30: Widzew Lodz v Steaua Bucharest; Borussia Dortmund v Atletico Madrid. Nov 20: Widzew Lodz v Borussia Dortmund; Steaua Bucharest v Atletico Madrid. Dec 4: Atletico Madrid v Widzew Lodz; Borussia Dortmund v Steaua Bucharest.

GROUP C: Sept 11: Rapid Vienna v Fenerbahce (Tur); Juventus (It) v Manchester United. Sept 25: Manchester United v Rapid Vienna; Fenerbahce v Juventus. Oct 16: Rapid Vienna v Juventus; Fenerbahce v Manchester United. Oct 30: Manchester United v Fenerbahce; Juventus v Rapid Vienna. Nov 20: Manchester United v Juventus; Fenerbahce v Rapid Vienna. Dec 4: Rapid Vienna v Manchester United; Juventus v Fenerbahce.

GROUP D: Sept 11: IFK Gothenburg (Swe) v Rosenborg Trondheim (Nor); Milan v Porto (Por). Sept 25: Porto v IFK Gothenburg; Rosenborg v Milan. Oct 16: IFK Gothenburg v Milan; Rosenburg v Porto. Oct 30: FC Porto v Rosenborg; Milan v IFK Gothenburg. Nov 20: Porto v Milan; Rosenborg v IFK Gothenburg. Dec 4: IFK Gothenburg v Porto; Milan v Rosenborg.

Uefa Cup

FIRST ROUND: *Brondby (Den) v Aarau (Swit); CSKA Moscow v *Feyenoord (Neth); Apoel Nicosia (Cyp) v Espanol (Sp); Guingamp (Fr) v Internazionale (It); Odense (Den) v *Boavista (Por); Ferencvaros (Hun) v *Olympiakos (Gr); Newcastle Utd v Halmstads (Swe); Aberdeen v Barry Town; Hutnik Krakow (Pol) v *Monaco (Fr); Roma v *Dynamo Moscow; Celtic v Hamburg (Ger); Tenerife (Sp) v Maccabi Tel Aviv (Isr); *Panathinaikos (Gr) v Legia Warsaw; *Arsenal v Borussia Monchengladbach (Ger); Chernomorets Odessa (Ukr) v National Bucharest (Rom); Torpedo Moscow v Dynamo Tbilisi (Geor); Bodo/Glimt (Nor) v *Trabzonspor (Tur); *Club Bruges (Bel) v Lyngby (Den); Rapid Bucharest (Rom) v Karlsruhe (Ger); Aston Villa v Helsingborgs (Swe); Lens (Fr) v *Lazio (It); *Spartak Moscow v Silkeborg (Den); Malmo (Swe) v Slavia Prague; Germinal Ekeren (Bel) v Casino Graz (Aut); Montpellier (Fr) v *Sporting Lisbon; Valencia (Sp) v *Bayern Munich; Dynamo Kiev (Ukr) v Neuchatel Xamax (Swit); RWD Molenbeek (Bel) v Besiktas (Tur); Guimaraes (Por) v *Parma (It); Alania Vladikavkaz (Rus) v *Anderlecht (Bel); Schalke 04 (Ger) v Roda JC Kerkrade (Neth); Tirol Innsbruck (Aut) v Metz (Fr). (First leg Tue 10 Sept; second leg Tue 24 Sept).

Cup-Winners' Cup

FIRST ROUND: *Nimes (Fr) v Kispest Honved (Hun); *Sturm Graz (Aut) v Sparta Prague; Constructorul Chisinau (Mol) v *Galatasaray (Tur); *Kaiserslautern (Ger) v Red Star Belgrade; MyPa-47 Anjalankoski (Fin) v *Liverpool; *Sion (Swit) v Nyva Vynnytsya (Ukr); *Aarhus (Den) v Olimpija Ljubljana (Sloven); *Cercle Bruges (Bel) v Brann (Nor); *Lokomotiv Moscow v Varteks Varazdin (Croa); Reykjavik (Ice) v *Solna (Swe); *Barcelona v AEK Larnaca (Cyp); *Benfica (Por) v Ruch Chorzow (Pol); *AEK Athens v Chemlon Humenne (Slovak); Gloria Bistrita (Rom) v *Fiorentina (It); Dynamo Batumi (Geor) v *PSV Eindoven (Neth); Vaduz (Lie) v *Paris St-Germain. (First leg Thu 12 Sept; second leg Thu 26 Sept).

* Denotes seeded team.

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