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Eastern European teams struggling in Champions League

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If the opening two rounds in the Champions League group stage are anything to go by, eastern European teams in the competition will find it difficult to advance to the knockout stage.

As things stand at the moment, most of them could also be denied the consolation prize of carrying on in the Europa League after the winter break.

Teams from this part of Europe registered just one win, one draw and five defeats on Tuesday and Wednesday and most have a mountain to climb if they are to reach the last 16.

Five of them — CSKA Moscow, Otelul Galati, Dinamo Zagreb, Shakhtar Donetsk and Viktoria Plzen are bottom in their respective groups.

Eastern Europe’s UEFA Cup love affair still burning

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What have the UEFA Cup and the Eurovision song contest got in common?

A) Some people don’t take them as seriously as they could.

B) They give lesser known participants the chance to appear on prime-time TV.

C) East European countries have started to dominate them

And the answer, I’m starting to think, is C … because of A and B.

This year will be the third year in the past six that an ex-Soviet team plays in the UEFA Cup final after victories by Russian sides Zenit St Petersburg last year and CSKA Moscow in 2005.

Watching Shakhtar Donetsk’s dramatic victory over fellow Ukrainian team Dynamo Kiev, I wondered why eastern European teams were enjoying such a love affair with a competition others have lost their passion for.

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