PAOK Set to Compete in CEV Champions League Qualifying
PAOK will play against Hungary’s VRC Kazinbarcika in the first qualifying round of the CEV Champions League, after Olympiacos gave up their spot in order to compete in the CEV Cup instead.
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Unlike last season where PAOK automatically qualified for the group stages (where they were subsequently eliminated), PAOK will have to go through qualifying in this year’s Champions League. Their first round opponents will be VRC Kazinbarcika, and they will play the Hungarians home and away in mid-October. The winner will then advance to the second qualifying round, with sights on the third (final) qualifying round and a spot in the group stages.
Initially, Olympiacos were set to be Greece’s representative in the Champions League, having been crowned Greek champions this season. However, the Erythrolefki opted to compete in the CEV Cup instead, as they felt they had a better chance of doing well and potentially winning that trophy.
The CEV Cup is Europe’s second tier club competition behind the Champions League, while the CEV Challenge Cup is a third tier competition. It must be noted that Olympiacos finished runner-ups in the CEV Challenge Cup this past season, falling to Italy’s Ravena in the two-legged final. In this year’s CEV Challenge Cup, Greece will be represented by Iraklis.