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Serie A
By ESPN Staff

Sevilla face Greek test in UEFA Cup defence

MONACO, Aug 25 (Reuters) - UEFA Cup holders Sevilla will start the defence of their crown against modest Greek side Atromitos following the draw made on Friday.

Sevilla, who crushed Middlesbrough 4-0 to lift the trophy for the first time in Eindhoven May, will play the first leg in Greece on September 14.

'I must confess that I don't know much about them,' Sevilla president Jose Maria del Nido, whose team were to take on Spanish rivals Barcelona in the European Super Cup here later on Friday, said of Atromitos.

'They probably know a lot more about us than we do about them,' he added. 'It's an okay draw but we will treat them with all due respect. Greek teams are usually strong physically and tough to play and playing in a Greek stadium is never an easy task.'

Ajax Amsterdam, the four-times European champions who surprisingly lost to FC Copenhagen in the third qualifying round of the Champions League on Wednesday, will face Scandinavian opposition again after being drawn to play IK Start of Norway.

Levadia Tallinn, the first Estonian club to come through the qualifying round in any European competition, will face Newcastle United of England, bidding to win their first European trophy since lifting the old Inter Cities Fairs Cup, the forerunner to the UEFA Cup, in 1969.

Tottenham Hotspur, the first winners of the UEFA Cup in 1972 and back in European competition after a seven year absence, were drawn to play Slavia Prague of the Czech Republic.


'Slavia have plenty of European experience and it will not be easy,' said Tottenham sporting director Damien Comolli.

'We haven't been in Europe for a while and our fans' expectations are high,' he added. 'I would say the chances are 50-50'.

Schalke 04, the 1997 champions and one of eight former winners in the draw, face a tricky first test against French League Cup winners Nancy.

'Nancy are dangerous opponents,' said Schalke coach Mirko Slomka. 'The French sides are strong technically and we will have to be very careful.'

Olympique Marseille, the 1993 European champions, were handed a seemingly easy start against Czech side Mlada Boleslav.

The 40 winners of the first round ties advance to the group stage which comprises eight pools of five teams and starts in October.

A further eight contenders will join in from the last 32 after finishing third in their respective Champions League groups.

The first round, first leg matches will be played on September 14 with the return legs on September 28.

The final is at Glasgow's Hampden Park on May 16 next year.