- Easier for PAOK & Olympiacos, Tougher for Panathinaikos -
Arouca, Dinamo Tbilisi, and Brondy will be the opponents of Olympiacos, PAOK, and Panathinaikos in the UEFA Europa League Playoff Qualifying Round. Since all 3 teams were seeded in today’s draw, each were expected to receive theoretically “easier” opponents. Panathinaikos seems to have the toughest task out of the three teams while PAOK and Olympiacos will be happy with today’s draw.
Olympiacos will play Arouca from Portugal, who made their debut in UEFA’s competition this season. They knocked out Heracles (from Holland) in the 3rd Qualifying Round after recording a 0-0 draw at home and 1-1 draw away. Arouca will be a tricky opponent as they finished 5th in last year’s Portuguese League. The first game will be played on August 18th in Portugal with the return leg scheduled for August 25th at the Karaiskaki Stadium.
On paper, PAOK was handed the easiest draw and paired with Georgian Champions Dinamo Tbilisi. Like PAOK, Dinamo Tbilisi comes from the Champions League 3rd Qualifying Round and were knocked out by Dinamo Zagreb (2-0 away, 0-1 at home). After two great showings against Ajax, PAOK will be considered the heavy favorites to advance. The first game will be played in Georgia on August 18th with the return leg scheduled for August 25th in Thessaloniki.
It seems that Panathinaikos was the unluckiest of the Greek teams, drawing Brondby from Denmark. Brondby eliminated Hertha Berlin in the 3rd Qualifying Round after losing 1-0 in Berlin and winning 3-1 in the return leg at home. Brondby faced PAOK in last year’s Europa League Qualifying and were eliminated after a 5-0 defeat in Thessaloniki and 1-1 draw in Denmark. Many things have changed since PAOK’s emphatic victory over Brondby with the Danish side making their statement against Hertha Berlin. The first leg will be played in Greece on August 18th and the return leg will be in Denmark on August 25th.