Unlucky Panathinaikos, Hope for AEK, Easy for PAOK
Panathinaikos was the unluckiest Greek side in the Europa League playoff draw as they were matched up with Spanish side Athletic Bilbao. AEK will face Club Brugge while PAOK will pair up with Swedish Cup champions Ostersund.
Three Greek teams took part in Friday’s Europa League playoff draw including PAOK, AEK, and Panathinaikos. PAOK and Panathinaikos eliminated Olimpik Donetsk and Gabala, respectively, in the third qualifying round while AEK was demoted to the Europa League after falling to CSKA Moscow in Champions League qualifying.
PAOK were handed the easiest opponents in Friday’s Europa League draw as they were the only Greek side seeded in the draw. The Dikefalos tou Vora will face Ostersund with the first game scheduled at Toumba on August 17th. Although an easy name on paper, Ostersund have pulled off one of the biggest surprises in the Europa League thus far, knocking out Turkish giants Galatasaray in the second qualifying round. In the third round, the Swedish Cup champions knocked out Fola Esh from Luxembourg with two wins (1-0, 1-2).
Although AEK were unseeded, they will a tough, but doable task against Belgian side Club Brugge. The Enosis will look to return to the group stages of a European competition when they travel to Brugge for the first leg before hosting their opponents at the OAKA on August 24th. Like AEK, Club Brugge were eliminated in the Champions League 3rd qualifying round drawing İstanbul Basaksehir in the first leg (3-3) and falling in Turkey in the second leg 2-0.
Panathinaikos were handed the toughest draw on paper as they will face Spanish side Athletic Bilbao. The Prasini will go into the matchup as the underdogs, but the club seems optimistic that they can qualify for the Europa League group stages for yet another season. The first match will be in Athens on August 17th before Panathinaikos travel to Bilbao for the second leg on August 24.