AEK’s Possible Opponents in the Champions League
On Wednesday, AEK claimed top spot in the Greek Superleague playoffs and will be Greece's second representative in next year’s UEFA Champions League.
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After a dramatic finale to this year's Greek Superleague playoffs, AEK claimed first place in the standings and will play in next year’s UEFA Champions League for the first time in 10 years. As the 2017 Greek SuperLeague Runner-ups, AEK will enter the UEFA Champions League 3rd Qualifying round “League Route,” composed of teams that did not win their respective domestic leagues.
Olympiacos, as the Superleague champions, will enter the UEFA Champions League 3rd qualifying round “Champions Route,” composed of teams that won their respective domestic leagues.
AEK will need to progress through two qualifying rounds (3rd Qualifying Round & Playoff Qualifying Round) to advance to the Champions League Group Stages. Due to AEK’s absence from Europe over recent years, they currently have a low placement in UEFA's Club Coefficient Ranking and will be "unseeded" for the draws in both qualifying rounds, meaning more difficult opponents (theoretically). One thing is certain, AEK’s road to the group stages will be extremely difficult.
In the third qualifying round, AEK will be unseeded in the draw along with Steaua Bucuresti (ROU), Young Boys (SUI), Nice (FRA), and Basaksehir (TUR) and will not be paired with any of those teams. AEK’s possible opponents in the third qualifying round will be the seeded teams including Dynamo Kiev (UKR), Ajax (NED), Viktoria Plzen (CZE), CSKA Moscow (RUS), and Club Brugge (BEL).
If AEK advance to the playoff qualifying round they will once again be unseeded and will be paired with clubs from Europe's top leagues including Sevilla (ESP), Napoli (ITA), Liverpool (ENG), and two other teams that will advance from the third qualifying round. If the seeded teams (the favorites) advance from the third qualifying round, AEK’s remaining two possible opponents in the playoff qualifying round will be Dynamo Kiev (UKR), and Ajax (NED). A tough task to say the least.
The matches for the third qualifying round will take place on July 25/26 (leg one) and August 4/5 (second leg). The home and away matches will be decided via the draw on July 14th.
If AEK are eliminated in the Champions League third qualifying round, they will be demoted to the UEFA Europa League playoff qualifying round and will need to surpass one round of qualifying to play in the group stages. If AEK advances to the Champions League playoff qualifying round and are eliminated there, they will be granted an automatic spot to the UEFA Europa League group stages.
Although AEK’s European campaign looks extremely difficult at a glance, their return to European’s biggest stage is a tremendous achievement after playing in the Greek Third Division just a few seasons ago due to financial trouble.