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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Liverpool, Barcelona, PSV Face Minnows

LONDON -- Three of Europe's past champions reach for their guidebooks and step into the relative unknown Thursday as the European Cup Winners' Cup swings into action.


Liverpool, Barcelona and PSV Eindhoven begin their campaigns against teams they would be hard-pressed to place on Europe's bewilderingly diverse soccer map.


English giants Liverpool take their unquestionable European pedigree to Finland, where they meet MyPa-47 Anjalonkoski.


The Merseysiders have won four European Cups and two UEFA Cups, and start among the favorites to win the one European trophy to have eluded them so far.


Ironically, they are the one big side in the competition who qualified for the Cup Winners' Cup without winning a cup, losing to archrivals Manchester United in the F.A. Cup final.


Only when United went on to complete the double and lift the English league title did Liverpool qualify for Thursday's first round.


PSV Eindhoven of the Netherlands, who won their solitary European Cup title back in 1988, travel to Georgia to tackle Dinamo Batumi.


PSV have often languished in the shadow of Ajax Amsterdam since their finest hour, but this season they have proved unstoppable in their domestic league.


After disposing of Ajax in the curtain-raiser to the Dutch season they won their first four league games, scoring 15 goals and conceding just three.


Brazil's former PSV striker Ronaldo will spearhead Barcelona's trophy bid when they open their account at home to AEK Larnaca of Cyprus.


The Spanish giants, who lifted the European Cup in 1992, have former England manager Bobby Robson at the helm, and an awesome new-look team including Portuguese international goalkeeper Vitor Baia and Brazilian Giovanni, who wore Pele's No. 10 shirt at Santos.


The Catalans also have the best Cup Winners' Cup record of any side in the competition, having won the trophy in 1979, 1982 and 1989, and are among only three teams playing Thursday to have lifted the cup before.


The others are holders Paris Saint Germain, who beat Rapid Vienna in Brussels in last season's final, and Fiorentina, who won the first Cup Winners' Cup in 1961, beating Glasgow Rangers over two legs.


PSG start their defense with what should be a leisurely stroll past Vaduz of Liechtenstein, defeated 14-1 on aggregate by Czech side Hradec Kralove in the same competition last year. Fiorentina look to build on the impressive Italian performances in the UEFA Cup when they travel to Gloria Bistrita of Romania.


In Moscow, Lokomotiv will be hoping they fare better than most other Moscow teams in their match against the Croatian team Varteks.