European draws

Friday’s UEFA Cup and Champions League draws could have shown the participating Finnish clubs a bit more mercy.

TamU’s dreams of making it to the Champions League group stage are pretty much ruled out. They need a perfect performance and some help from the heavens above if they want to cancel out Artmedia’s 3-1 aggregate lead and three away goals in their second qualification round second leg game next week. Even if they do qualify for the next round, they will need another miracle when they take on Italian giants Juventus.

In the UEFA Cup, FC Haka will play Brøndby IF from Denmark, while FC Honka face a challenge from Norway’s Viking Stavanger.
Veikkausliiga teams in general are not much weaker than Norwegian or Danish premier league sides. However, other Scandinavian sides usually have more experience from European games as opposed to the Finns, and the quality of their routine performance is a little bit higher, owing to them getting so many challenging games in their domestic leagues.
It cannot be said that Haka and Honka stand no chance though. The Scandinavian clashes are usually even affairs, but Danish, Swedish and Norwegian sides always seem to have the upper hand. Most likely Haka and Honka will have to put in a performance of their highest standards.

It is interesting to see how the clubs will react, if any leading persons in the organizations come out publicly to discuss the draws. In the past, Finnish clubs have sometimes been so pessimistic about their team’s chances of qualifying that they have wanted to be drawn to play a big European club, the logic behind being “we won’t qualify anyway, so let’s hope we get a big team to play against so we can cash in on the home game”. FC Honka could have drawn Manchester City and FC Haka had a chance to play Aston Villa. Both English teams would have probably beaten their Finnish opponents, but they would have attracted huge crowds. Playing Brøndby IF and Viking Stavanger will provide the Finns with a better chance to qualify, but in case they lose, will the clubs grieve over the money they “lost” when they didn’t get to play European giants?

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