**-- ABOUT THE GREEK soccer CUP --**

**current format**

The Greek Soccer Cup (also called Football Cup OPAP) is Greece’s 2nd most important club soccer competition and takes place from August to April. The Greek cup consists of teams from both the first and second divisions (SuperLeague and Football League). The competition has 6 rounds, including the final that will be held on May 6th. The winner of the Greek Cup earns a place in the UEFA Europa League 3rd Qualifying Round. If the Greek Cup Champion has already earned a spot in the UEFA Champions League or UEFA Europa League via their SuperLeague ranking (1st-4th), then the 5th placed team from the SuperLeague will enter the Europa League 2nd Qualifying Round. The current champion of the Greek Cup is AEK who defeated Olympiacos 2 – 1 in last year’s final on May 17, 2016. Below is the explanation of each round of the competition:

**First Round:**The 1st round only consists of teams from the Greek Football League. Since the Football League has 18 teams this year, 4 teams are drawn to compete in the 1st round as the other 14 teams are automatically placed in the competition’s 2nd round. The 4 teams are drawn into 2 knockout pairs and the matches in this round are played under a two legged knockout system (home and away basis). The team which scores the greater aggregate of goals in the two matches advances to the 2nd round. Away goal rules apply in the case of a tie (more information below).**Second Round (Group Stage):**The 2nd round is in a group stage format. The 16 teams from the Greek SuperLeague are automatically placed in the 2nd round. The 14 teams from the Football League along with the 2 teams that advanced from the 1st round make up the 32 teams of the group stage. Eight groups of 4 teams are formed via a draw (2 from the SuperLeague and 2 from the Football League) and each team plays the other once, totaling 3 games per team. The top 2 teams from each group advance to the 3rd round whereas the bottom two teams are eliminated from the competition. More information is located under the “Greek Cup Standings” in regards to the points system and tie breakers.**Third Round (Round of 16):**The 3rd round consists of the 16 teams that advanced from the 2nd Round Group Stage. The 16 teams are placed into 2 pots and one team from each pot is drawn to form the 8 knockout pairs. The 8 groups winners from the 2nd round are placed in Pot 1 whereas the 8 group runner-ups are placed in Pot 2. The matches in this round are played under a two legged knockout system (home and away basis) and the teams from Pot 1 will play the first leg away and the second leg at home. The team which scores the greater aggregate of goals in the two matches advances to the Quarter-Finals. Away goal rules apply in the case of a tie (more information below).**Fourth Round (Quarter-Finals):**The 4th round consists of the 8 teams that advanced from the Round of 16. The 8 teams are placed into one pot and are drawn to form 4 knockout pairs. The matches in this round are played under a two legged knockout system (home and away basis) with the first team drawn to play the first leg at home and the second leg away. The team which scores the greater aggregate of goals in the two matches advances to the Semi-Finals. Away goal rules apply in the case of a tie (more information below).**Fifth Round (Semi-Finals):**The 5th round consists of the 4 teams that advanced from the Quarter-Finals. The 4 teams are placed into one pot and are drawn to form the 2 knockout pairs. The matches in this round are played under a two legged knockout system (home and away basis) with the first team drawn to play the first leg at home and the second leg away. The team which scores the greater aggregate of goals in the two matches advances to the Greek Cup Final. Away goal rules apply in the case of a tie (more information below).**Sixth Round (Final):**The final consists of the 2 teams that advanced from the Semi-Finals. Only one match is played at a pre-determined neutral site. The date of this year's Final will be May 6th and the location is yet to be announced. The winner of this match is crowned the Greek cup champion. In the case of a tie at the end of normal time, two 15-minute extra time periods will be played. If there is a tie at the end of extra time, penalties will follow.

**away goal rule**

The away goal rule applies for the matches played under the two legged knockout system (except the Final). This rule is applied if the two teams are tied on goals over the two legs. In this case the team which scores more away goals qualifies for the next stage. If this procedure does not produce a result, i.e. if both teams score the same number of goals at home and away, two 15-minute periods of extra time are played at the end of the second leg. If, during extra time, both teams score the same number of goals, the away goals count double (i.e. the away club qualifies). If no goals are scored during extra time, penalties will determine which club qualifies for the next round.

**history**

The Greek Cup under the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) began in 1931 and over the years the competition has been played under various formats. Up until 1971 teams from the local leagues took part, however due to the excessive number of teams only clubs from the top three division competed in the Greek Cup. After the 2012-2013 season it was decided to only include teams from the top two Greek soccer divisions (SuperLeague and Football league). Ten different clubs have won the competition including Panathinaikos (18), AEK (15), PAOK (5), Panionios (2), Larissa (2), Aris (1), Iraklis (1), OFI Crete (1), Ethnikos Piraeus (1), Kastoria (1), and Olympiacos who has the most titles with 27.