Boloni had just 25 days and three games in charge before the club intervened ahead of hosting Rapid Vienna in a single-leg elimination game. Three games are scheduled, all featuring runners-up in their domestic leagues last season: PAOK Thessaloniki hosts group stage regular Benfica, and Dynamo Kyiv is home to AZ Alkmaar.
AZ was perhaps the unluckiest team during the early stages of the pandemic, being edged for the Netherlands title on goal difference by Ajax when the season was curtailed. All UEFA competition qualifiers are being played without spectators, including Dynamo using the cavernous Olympic Stadium that staged the 2018 final. Real Madrid beat Liverpool 3-1.
Winners on Tuesday advance to the two-leg playoff round starting next week that will complete the 32-team group stage draw being made Oct. 1. Five more third qualifying round games are played on Wednesday.
ENGLAND Premier League clubs enter the English League Cup at the second-round stage for the first of three straight weeks of action early in the remodelled domestic calendar. Much focus will be on West Ham, which started the season with a chastening home loss to Newcastle 2-0 in the league on Saturday after an offseason when the club struggled to bring in any major signings.
Newcastle, Aston Villa and Crystal Palace are also in action against lower-league opponents. Newcastle and Palace won in the league at the weekend, while Villa was not in action. English teams playing in European competition enter the League Cup in round three, which take place next midweek.
Rounds two, three and four are all being played early — and in successive weeks — rather than spread out over the fist half of the season in a pandemic-induced change to a typical competition schedule. There will be no extra time in the first five rounds.
The semifinals in January will be played over one leg instead of two. FRANCE Lyon visits Montpellier in its latest catch-up game in Ligue 1 after starting the season late because of the team's run to the semifinals of the Champions League last month.
It will be Lyon's third game of the league campaign — it has a win and a draw so far — and will bring Rudi Garcia's side up to date in terms of fixtures.
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