AEK look forward to life in the Champions League
With AEK Athens edging ever closer to an historic first league title in 24 years, the Enosis can begin looking forward to life in the 2018/2019 UEFA Champions League.
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AEK have enjoyed a superb Super League season in Greece, losing only two games in 27 fixtures and currently boasting an eight point lead over second placed PAOK Thessaloniki. Requiring only one point from the final three rounds to become champions of Greece, it seems unthinkable that the trophy won’t be on its way to the Kitrinomavri.
If AEK do see out the campaign and earn the right to call themselves Greek champions, the Enosis will enter the Champions League champion’s route third qualifying round. Because of the club’s low UEFA ranking, AEK will most probably be included in the second champions pot.
Here, we have a list of teams which will be in the third qualifying round through the champions route providing they win their respective leagues. Some also need to play in the second qualifying round beforehand:
RB Salzburg, Austria
PSV Eindhoven, Netherlands
BATE Borisov, Belarus
Dinamo Zagreb, Croatia
AEK Athens, Greece
Apollon Limassol, Cyprus
As previously stated, not all of these teams are certain to win their championships. This information is based on current standings.
Having not played in the group stage of a European competition for a number of years before the 2017/2018 season, AEK’s UEFA ranking is low and the club are faced with the reality of being in the second pot. AEK will surely fancy their chances against any of the teams in pot one, but matches with Salzburg, PSV or Celtic would prove to be a stern test.
In the Champions League playoff stage, the champions of the Czech Republic (Viktoria Plzen) and Switzerland (Young Boys) will join the action. In the event that AEK lose in the third qualifying round, the Athenians will move to the UEFA Europa League playoffs. However, if AEK make the Champions League playoffs and fall at that hurdle, the club automatically qualify for the Europa League group stages.
Last summer, AEK lost to CSKA Moscow in the Champions League third qualifying round 0:3 on aggregate, but the Enosis then defeated Club Brugge in the Europa League playoffs to make the group stage. AEK didn’t lose a single match in Group D, finishing in second place and losing to Dynamo Kyiv on the away goals rule in the Last 32.