UEFA Champions League Playoff Round: Less Fun With Gutted Teams

Head coach Lucien Favre of Moenchengladbach looks on prior to the friendly match between Borussia Moenchengladbach and FC Sevilla. Gladbach plays Dynamo Kiev in the playoff round of the UEFA Champions League on August 21, 2012. (Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Lots of the teams involved in the playoff round of the UEFA Champions League preemptively sold their best players this summer instead of gambling that they could make it through.

The playoff round of the UEFA Champions League has previously featured the elimination of multiple excellent teams, due to many of the teams in the round holding onto their star players in hopes that they can make the competition's group stage and boost their finances. This season, most of the clubs in the playoff round were not willing to take that risk.

FC Basel, Udinese, Malaga, Borussia Mönchengladbach and Lille have all sold off arguably their best players, while Celtic are about to sell one of their best in Ki Sung-Yueng. All of the teams left in the playoff round are still good teams, but these games look much less interesting than they did a few weeks ago.

The most interesting tie is the first one to get underway. Both Fenerbahce and Spartak Moscow spent some money to improve their teams in the summer, and both will have a solid chance of grabbing second place in their group if they go through and do not get thrown into an inevitable group of death. Their match gets underway at 12 p.m. ET.

All of Tuesday's other four games start at the same time. There are two Champions Route games and two League Route games on the schedule. Wednesday's schedule does not feature any early games. Three Champions Route games and two League Route games will be played on Wednesday.

Schedule (all times ET)

Champions Route

FC Basel vs. CFR Cluj - Tuesday, 2:45 p.m.
Helsingborg vs. Celtic - Tuesday, 2:45 p.m.
BATE Borisov vs. Ironi Kiryat Shmona - Wednesday, 2:45 p.m.
AEL Limassol vs. Anderlecht - Wednesday, 2:45 p.m.
Dinamo Zagreb vs. Maribor - Wednesday, 2:45 p.m.

League Route

Spartak Moscow vs. Fenerbahce - Tuesday, 12 p.m.
Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Dynamo Kiev - Tuesday, 2:45 p.m.
Copenhagen vs. Lille - Tuesday, 2:45 p.m. ET
Braga vs. Udinese - Wednesday, 2:45 p.m.
Malaga vs. Panathinaikos - Wednesday, 2:45 p.m.

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