Houllier sees happy omen in Liverpool's trip to Bucharest

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The Independent Football

Gerard Houllier believes his Liverpool side could not have been handed a tougher draw than Steaua Bucharest in the Uefa Cup second round, but he views the pairing as positive.

Steaua knocked out Southampton in the first round and this tie could prove tricky, but Houllier recalls it was a trip to Bucharest in 2000 which set Liverpool on the way to winning the Uefa Cup at the end of the 2000-01 season.

"I know we will not be playing the same club this time, but for the first tie of the season we won the trophy we had to overcome a difficult match there against Rapid Bucharest," he said. "Maybe this is an omen because we ended up winning the tournament that season. But we do accept that this is the toughest tie we could have had from our section of the draw. But it is an exciting game against a club with a fine history."

Steaua's main shareholder, Gigi Becali, says he will build a church if the Romanian side beat Liverpool. "During the [second leg] match against Southampton, I promised God that I would build a church if Steaua wins, but now I'll add a second one if my players manage to strike out Liverpool," Becali said. "I'm really happy to play against an English team again. We know their style well and that suits us."

Becali, an influential local real estate businessman, is a fervent Orthodox believer and has previously made financial contributions to the building of 20 churches across the country.

Steaua play the first leg at home on 6 November 6 with the return match at Anfield on 27 November.

Manchester City take a step into the unknown against the Polish side Groclin Grodzisk but their manager, Kevin Keegan, is relishing the challenge.

Grodzisk sprung a shock in the first round by knocking out Hertha Berlin, but Keegan said: "I have no problem with this tie, we are just glad to be in the tournament. I understand they have some internationals in their side. To beat a German team like Hertha Berlin in the last round is no mean feat.

"We are drawn at home again for the third time and have managed to progress. I think we will be favourites as we are a Premiership side. But as they proved in the last round it doesn't mean to say you are going to progress. You have got to be a little bit more streetwise in Europe and I am expecting us to do well in this competition."

Newcastle United's reward for seeing off the Dutch side NAC Breda is a tie against the Swiss club Basle, who, like the Magpies, upset the odds to reach the second group phase of the Champions' League last season.

Newcastle's manager, Sir Bobby Robson, said: "I think we've got a tough draw. I was looking at the list of teams that we could be drawn against and that was the one I didn't want, to be honest."

The Hearts midfielder, Scott Severin, says his side have a realistic chance of progressing against the French side Bordeaux. They were rewarded for their 2-0 aggregate win over the Bosnian side NK Zeljeznicar in the first round with a plum draw, with the second leg at Tynecastle. Severin said: "Whoever we would have got would have been a tough game and the good thing for us is that we're away from home in the first leg."

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