Liverpool’s opponents in the third qualifying round of the Champions League will be Bulgarian outfit CSKA Sofia. Sofia beat SK Tirana 2-0 tonight, 4-0 on aggregate.
The first leg is to be played in Bulgaria next week – on Wednesday 10th August . The return leg is at Anfield on Tuesday 23rd August. It is an unfortunate coincidence that the fixture is against Bulgarian opposition, meaning the Reds are to travel to the country which currently holds an innocent Liverpool fan in its prisons. Michael Shields was today denied bail and an appeal hearing won’t now be heard until next month at the earliest. Perhaps the real perpetrator of the crime – Graham Sankey – will be prepared to travel over next week to face justice.
Liverpool were due to play a Premiership fixture away at Charlton on the 23rd, this game has now been postponed – no new date has been set yet.
One player that looks likely to miss both of those Champions League fixtures is new striker Peter Crouch. The England international was substituted early in the second half of last night’s fixture against Kaunas with a suspected hamstring problem. A scan today confirmed the hamstring strain in his right leg and the medical staff estimate a two-to-three week absence. Although it’s a blow from a Champions League point-of-view, the player isn’t available for Premiership action for the games against Middlesborough and Sunderland in any case due to suspension. The postponement of the Charlton game, and the postponement of the match against Arsenal scheduled for August 27th, means that Crouch won’t be able to make his league debut for the Reds until September 10th at the earliest, when Liverpool travel to White Hart Lane.
The Arsenal game was postponed as Liverpool are due to meet CSKA Moscow in Monaco on Friday 26th in the UEFA Super Cup final.