Olympiacos to Serbia, AEK to Russia
Olympiacos and AEK were handed rather difficult draws in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round. Olympiacos will likely face Partizan, who won their first leg match over B. Podgorica 2-0, while AEK will play CSKA Moscow.
Olympiacos were paired with the winner of Partizan or B. Podgorica from the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round with the Serbian champions holding a 2-0 lead from the first leg. All looks as if Partizan will be Olympiacos’ opponents in the third qualifying round, which will set up a closely contested matchup.
Partizan, who hold a brotherhood with PAOK, will surely generate an intimidating atmosphere in Belgrade when the Erythrolefki travel to Serbia for the first leg on July 25 or 26. Olympiacos, who have a brotherhood with Partizan's eternal enemies Crvena Zvezda, will play host in the second leg which will be held at the Karaiskaki stadium one week later.
Despite the unfavorable draw (given the other possible opponents), Olympiacos will be the favorites to advance to the next round. If the Piraeotes are eliminated in the UEFA Champions League 3rd qualifying round, they will be demoted to the UEFA Europa League playoff qualifying round.
AEK were also handed an unfavorable draw in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round with Russian giants CSKA Moscow. Although the Kitrinomavri avoided Ajax, CSKA was theoretically the second toughest possible opponent from the seeded sides.
AEK will host the Russian side in the first leg at the OAKA stadium on July 25 or 26 before traveling to Moscow for the second leg. CSKA Moscow will have an advantage over AEK seeing that they are more prepared in training due to the fact that the Russian Premier League is set to begin this weekend.
CSKA Moscow will be the favorites to advance, however the Russian side will not strike fear into the hearts of the AEK players. With quality play, AEK can surely contest a place in the UEFA Champions League playoff qualifying round. If the Enosis come up short against CSKA Moscow, they will be demoted to the UEFA Europe League playoff qualifying round.