PAOK set for Champions League return

PAOK set for Champions League return

With PAOK on the verge of securing second spot in the Super League, AGONAsport takes a look at the club’s possible opponents in the 2018/2019 UEFA Champions League.

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Enduring a rollercoaster season in the Super League, once winning eleven consecutive matches and leading the standings, PAOK have seen controversial incidents in battles against arch-rivals Olympiacos and AEK Athens rob the Dikefalos tou Vorra of a maiden Greek title in 33 years. Nevertheless, with only three rounds remaining, PAOK are closing in on a long-awaited return to the Champions League.

Assuming PAOK manage to hold off the challenge of Olympiacos, who are only one point behind in third spot, the Thessaloniki club will enter the Champions League at the second qualifying phase, meaning that three playoff rounds have to be overcome before the prestigious group stages.

As it stands, PAOK could possibly face any of these following teams in the second round of qualifying:

Besiktas (Turkey)
Slavia Prague (Czech Republic)
FC Basel (Switzerland)
Ajax (Netherlands)
SK Sturm Graz (Austria)

This information is based upon current league standings in the respective championships.

If PAOK were to successfully negotiate the second round of Champions League qualification, the Greeks might have to play the likes of Lyon, CSKA Moscow or Benfica in the third stage:

Lyon (France)
CSKA Moscow (Russia)
Benfica (Portugal)
Dynamo Kyiv (Ukraine)
Anderlecht (Belgium)

In the event that PAOK lose in the Champions League third qualifying round, the Thessaloniki team will drop down to the Europa League’s final qualification phase. A place in the Champions League playoffs guarantees all clubs of at least a Europa League group stage berth.

by Athan Stylos
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