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Bremen draw Italians Sampdoria in Champions League playoffs

German club Werder Bremen has been drawn against Italy's Sampdoria in the Champions League playoff round. Three other German clubs also learnt their fates Friday ahead of the upcoming Europa League.

Bremen's Clemens Fritz in action for Bremen in a pre-season friendly fixture

Bremen will be looking to make a splash in the Champions League

The draw for the final qualifying round for the UEFA Champions League was held in Nyon, Switzerland, on Friday, with northern German club Werder Bremen being thrown up against Italian team Sampdoria.

Bremen finished third last season in the German domestic league, the Bundesliga, behind champions Bayern Munich and Schalke 04. In Germany, only the top two teams gain an automatic route to the Champions League group stages.

The Germans are among a field of 20 teams vying for a spot in the group stages alongside Europe's top clubs. Only 22 teams from across Europe gain automatic entrance to the group stages.

Sampdoria finished fourth in last season's edition of the Serie A behind AC Milan, Roma and domestic and European champions Inter Milan. The club has had a handful of significant showings in European football, most notably when it won the now-defunct UEFA Winners' Cup in 1990.

The first leg between the two teams will be a home game for the Germans on August 18, with the return leg to be held six days later in Italy.

The Champions League playoffs will also see several other notable clashes, including games between Spain's Seville and Portuguese outfit SC Braga, as well as matches between Dutch club Ajax and Ukraine's Dynamo Kyiv. The draw for the group stages will be held in Monaco on August 26.

Eastern challenges

German soccer player Michael Ballack, right, and Leverkusen sport director Rudi Voeller

Leverkusen will be hoping returnee Michael Ballack, right, can steer them to success in Europe

The draw for the playoff round of the 2010-11 Europa League, UEFA's second-tier club competition, was also held Friday, with three German clubs being drawn against opponents from eastern Europe and the Caucasus.

Bayer Leverkusen, who led the Bundesliga midway through last season only to finish fourth, were drawn against Ukrainian club SC Tavriya Simferopol, who finished sixth in last season's Ukrainian Premier League.

Borussia Dortmund, who finished fifth last season, must overcome Azerbaijani club FC Qarabag Khankendi, who finished third in the most recent edition of the Unibank Premyer Liqasi.

Stuttgart, meanwhile, who finished in sixth place, were drawn against Slovakian club SK Slovan Bratislava in perhaps the toughest draw of any of the German teams in the Europa League playoffs. Slovan is Slovakia's most successful team to date in domestic competition.

All first-leg games are to be played on August 19, with the follow-up games to be played one week later.

The 37 winners of the Europa League playoff round will join the 10 losers from the Champions League playoff round in the Europa League group stages.

Author: Darren Mara
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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