Manchester City’s Champions League play-off draw couldn’t have been much kinder.
Steaua Bucharest will be the Citizens opponents in their first European match under Pep Guardiola’s tutelage.
When one of Roma, Porto or Villarreal could’ve just as easily been pulled out of the hat, plenty with City’s best interests at heart will be thankful for this date with the Romanian Liga 1’s runners up.
Since beating Middlesbrough 1-0 in the opening leg of their 2005/06 Europa League semi-final, Steaua have lost seven of nine matches against English opponents, a run which includes a 4-2 defeat to Boro in the return leg.
In the Champions League alone they’ve lost four from four across the timeframe in question.
Given their woeful record against Premier League outfits, drawing Steaua has had absolutely no impact on the Citizens’ odds to win the Champions League, which remain fixed at 12/1.
In the league winners section of the draw, Celtic will play Israel’s Hapoel Be’er Sheva, who knocked out perennial Greek champions Olympiakos in the previous round.
The Bhoys fell at this stage last term when faced with Slovenian kingpins Maribor and their travelling travails in the play-offs to date – they lost to Gibraltar’s Lincoln Red Imps and tied Astana of Kazakhstan – suggests they’re going to struggle again here.
Be’er Sheva lost just one league game on home turf last term and have won both of their Champions League matches contested at base camp this time around.
Elsewhere, Dundalk are just one successful tie away from being the first League of Ireland side to grace the Champions League group stage.
They threw out competition regulars BATE Borisov – who beat Bayern Munich 3-1 in 2012/13 – 3-0 on aggregate to set up a date with Poland’s Legia Warsaw.