• Champions League

Arsenal handed tough Besiktas Champions League draw

ESPN staff
August 8, 2014
Besiktas now have former Chelsea striker Demba Ba leading their frontline © Getty Images

Arsenal have been handed the tough draw of Turkish side Besiktas in the play-off round to reach this season's Champions League.

Arsenal, who finished fourth in the Premier League last term and won the FA Cup, have made it to the group stage for the last 16 successive seasons.

Besiktas will be no pushover. They are only in the competition, despite finishing third in the Turkish Super League last season, because champions Fenerbahce are serving the second of a two-year ban for match-fixing in 2011.

However, managed by ex-Croatia coach Slaven Bilic, they have an attack spearheaded by Demba Ba, who recently signed for them in a £4.7 million deal. Besiktas came through the third qualifying round thanks to the former Chelsea striker scoring a hat-trick against Feyenoord in a 5-2 aggregate victory.

It is the second season in a row Arsenal have been drawn against Turkish opposition in the play-off round, with Arsene Wenger's side defeating Fenerbahce 5-0 on aggregate last year to reach the group stages.

Arsenal, Champions League finalists in 2006, have been knocked out of the competition in the last 16 in each of the past four years but Besiktas have not been beyond the group stages.

The first leg will be played in Istanbul on August 19, with the return leg at the Emirates set for August 27.

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