celtic to test arsenal

PARIS - Celtic and Arsenal will battle for a place in the lucrative Champions League group stages in a mouthwatering playoff clash today.

PARIS - Celtic and Arsenal will battle for a place in the lucrative Champions League group stages in a mouthwatering playoff clash today.

Both teams are among the 20 who will be hoping to emerge victorious from a two-leg tie that will allow them to join the 22 automatic qualifiers in the group stage.

Scottish Premier League runners-up Celtic warmed up for the hosting of Arsene Wenger's Arsenal at Parkhead by beating Aberdeen 3-1 away on Saturday while Wenger's men hammered Everton 6-1 in their Premier League opener in Liverpool.

Arsenal go into today's clash as the overriding favourites.

Celtic's new manager Tony Mowbray has seen his side show their character at this early stage of the season. The Hoops fought back from a 1-0 first-leg defeat at home in the third round of qualifying to beat Dynamo Moscow 2-0 in Russia, a result that secured their place in the playoff.

Celtic striker Aiden McGeady, who grabbed a brace on Saturday, admits it will be a tough 90 minutes but he believes the hosts should face Spanish ace Cesc Fabregas and company with plenty of faith in their abilities.

"We know we are the underdogs and they are obviously the favourites but they are definitely beatable," the Republic of Ireland midfielder said.

Sporting Lisbon, who finished runners-up in Portugal last season, will be looking to be more prolific at home if they are to appear in the group stages for a sixth time. In the first leg of their qualifying round Paulo Bento's side advanced on the away goals rule after a 1-1 draw with Dutch side FC Twente, who had held the Portuguese to a scoreless draw in Lisbon.

Today's matches: Celtic (SCO) v Arsenal (ENG), Sporting Lisbon (POR) v Fiorentina (ITA), Timisoara (ROM) v Stuttgart (GER), Sheriff (MDA) v Olympiakos (GRE), Copenhagen (DEN) v Apoel (CYP). - Sapa-AFP

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