The Champions League rolls on this week with the first leg matches in the playoff round. This is the final hurdle between 20 teams and a possible place in the lucrative group stages. Several noteworthy teams have joined the competition in this round including Arsenal, AC Milan, Real Sociedad and Schalke 04 and will try to avoid becoming a "one and done" victim of this round.
For Arsenal and Schalke 04, things are extremely precarious at the moment with both teams coming off horrendous league performances over the weekend.
The Gunners were embarrassed at home by Aston Villa and Arsene Wenger will be under tremendous pressure to get his side through to the group stages. They could end up there by default however if Fenerbahce's appeal against their European ban is upheld.
Schalke will face PAOK Salonika instead of Metalist Kharkiv who were handed a European ban after defeating PAOK in the last round. After Schalke's defense was carved up like a Thanksgiving turkey by Wolfsburg and striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaarr injured his knee, they might need all the help they can get.
The marquee draw of the playoff round is Lyon vs. Real Sociedad, two entertaining sides with dangerous attacks. Lyon are sitting on top of Ligue 1 thanks in large part to the early performances of Alexandre Lacazette and Yoann Gourcuff who have already combined for five goals. La Real opened their La Liga campaign with a win over Getafe and looked strong by the final whistle after a bit of a slow start to the match.
This week's matches are the first of two legs with aggregate goals determining who will advance to the group stages. In the event of a tie over the two legs, the away goals rule will be used as the tiebreaker. If away goals can't break the deadlock, 30 minutes of extra time will be played with away goals rule still in effect. If the teams remain tied after extra time, penalties will decide the winner.
Each winner advances to the group stages while the loser of each tie will be dropped to the group stages of the Europa League.
Tuesday, August 20th (All matches kick-off at 2:45pm ET)
Shakhter Karagandy vs. Celtic
Lyon vs. Real Sociedad
Paços de Ferreira vs. Zenit St Petersburg
PSV Eindhoven vs. AC Milan
Viktoria Plzen vs. NK Maribor
Wednesday, August 21st (All matches kick-off at 2:45pm ET)
Dinamo Zagreb vs. Austria Vienna
Fenerbahce vs. Arsenal
Ludogorets Razgrad vs. FC Basel
Schalke 04 vs. PAOK Salonika
Steaua Bucuresti vs. Legia Warsaw