Some players could miss start of Champions League qualifying if their teams go far at Euro 2024

Tue, Jun 18, 2024
Soccer News (AP)

Some players could miss start of Champions League qualifying if their teams go far at Euro 2024

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) - If Slovakia, Romania and Switzerland continue their hot starts to the European Championship, some players might be unavailable when their clubs start Champions League qualifying next month.

Slovakia midfielder Juraj Kucka plays for Slovan Bratislava which was drawn Tuesday to play Struga from North Macedonia in the first qualifying round of the revamped Champions League that starts July 9.

The 37-year-old Kucka impressed in Slovakia's stunning 1-0 win over heavily favored Belgium on Monday, and his shot led to the decisive goal in the seventh minute.

Switzerland forward Kwadwo Duah also is facing double duty for club and country, for whom he scored his first goal Saturday in a 3-1 win over Hungary.

Duah scored 13 league goals to help Ludogorets win the Bulgarian league title. Ludogorets was drawn against Dinamo Batumi of Georgia. The captain of Georgia's national team, defender Guram Kashia, also plays for Slovan.

Romanian champion FCSB, a successor club to the 1986 European Cup winner Steaua Bucharest, has four players in the national team that looks set to advance to the knockout stage at Euro 2024 after beating Ukraine 3-0 on Monday.

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FCSB will play Virtus of San Marino in its return to the competition after a seven-year absence.

The Euro 2024 round of 16 plays through July 2, just seven days before Champions League qualifying starts.

After the 14 first-round pairings were drawn Tuesday, the draw for the second qualifying round will be made by UEFA on Wednesday. It includes Ferencvaros, Malmo - which was a 1979 European Cup finalist - Sparta Prague, PAOK and Maccabi Tel Aviv.

Losers in the first qualifying round switch into the qualifying rounds of the third-tier Conference League.

There are four qualifying rounds for the revamped Champions League that starts in September with 36 teams instead of 32.

Each team will play eight games instead of six, in a new single standings league phase instead of traditional four-team groups, and games continue into January instead of ending in December. The top eight teams will go direct to the round of 16, and teams ranked Nos. 9-24 enter a playoff round in February.

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AP Euro 2024: https://apnews.com/hub/euro-2024

GRAHAM DUNBAR Dunbar is an Associated Press sports news reporter in Geneva, Switzerland. He focuses on the governing bodies, institutions and politics of international sports. twitter mailto "
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