PAOK favored, Bad memories for Panathinaikos, Hope for Panionios
PAOK were handed the easiest draw of the three Greek teams in the UEFA Europa League 3rd qualifying round as they will face Olimpik Donetsk from the Ukraine. Panathinaikos could be paired up with Qabala (eliminated PAO in 2015) or Jagiellonia while Panionios can hope of advancing to the playoff round against either Maccabi Tel-Aviv or Reykjavík.
PAOK were paired up with new-boys Olimpik Donetsk for the Ukraine. The Ukrainian side will be making their European debut when they host the Dikefalos tou Vora in the first leg on July 27. The second leg will take place one week later at the Toumba stadium in Thessaloniki.
PAOK are the heavy favorites to advance past the Olimpik Donetsk, a club that was formed in 2001!
Panathinaikos were paired with the winner of Qabala (AZE) and Jagiellonia (POL) with the Polish side holding a slight advantage after their first leg 1-1 draw in Azerbaijan. The name Qabala brings back horrific memories to the fans of Panathinaikos as the Azerbaijani side shocked the Trifylli in 2015 by eliminating the Prasini in Europa League qualifying. Last season, Jagiellonia just missed out on the league title to Legia Warsaw, coming up one point short in the standings.
Regardless of the opponent, Panathinaikos will be the clear favorites to advance to the next round of the competition.The first match will be played on July 27 at the Apostolos Nikolaidis stadium while the return leg will be held one week later on the road.
Panionios, who defeated Gorica 2-0 in their first leg match on Thursday, stood rather lucky in Friday’s draw as they avoided opponents like AC Milan and Bordeaux. The Nea Smyrni club were paired with the winner of Maccabi Tel-Aviv and Reykjavík, with the Israelis holding a 3-1 lead after the first leg. Panionios will be the outsiders on paper, however an evenly contested match will be expected with either of the two opponents. The Kyanerythri will surely have the ability to progress to the competition's final qualifying round in hopes of making it to the group stages.
The first leg will take place on the road on July 27 while the return leg will be held in Nea Smyrni on August 3rd.