The UEFA Champions League returns Tuesday and Wednesday as the Play-Off Stage begins. A pair of games in the home-and-away model will be played this week and next, leading up to the Group Stage beginning September 30 – October 1.
Play-off round, first leg 19-20/08/14
Play-off round, second leg 26-27/08/14
There are five games available on Fox Sports 1 & 2, Fox Sports Midwest and ESPN3 on Tuesday and Wednesday. The games on Fox on Tuesday can be found in the image above. All of the games can be found on my Soccer on TV Calendar.
The biggest name is Arsenal, who travel to Istanbul, Turkey to face Beşiktaş JK, with the return leg in London on 27 August.
• Demba Ba, who scored a hat-trick on his first Beşiktaş start on Tuesday, struck twice against Arsenal on 29 December 2012 – when Newcastle United FC lost 7-3 in his last game before joining Chelsea FC.
• Last season Arsenal knocked out Istanbul club Fenerbahçe SK 5-0 on aggregate in the play-offs.
The Champions League comprises three qualifying rounds, a play-off round, a group stage and four knockout rounds. Qualifying began in July and the tournament has entered the Play-Off stage as noted. In matches in the three qualifying rounds and the play-off stage, clubs play two matches against each other on a home-and-away basis. The club which scores the greater aggregate of goals qualifies for the next round, with away goals and then penalties used to determine the winner in the event of a draw.
The Group stage will begin with matchday one September 16-17. The ten winners in the play-off round ties – five from the best-placed path and five from the champions path – join 22 automatic entrants in the 32-team group stage. The clubs are split into eight groups of four teams, who play home and away against each of their pool opponents between September and December to decide which two teams from each section advance to the first knockout round. The third-place finishers in each group enter the UEFA Europa League round of 32.
The 2015 Champions League Final will be played at the Olympiastadion, Berlin, on Saturday 6 June 2015.