Olympiakos and Panathinaikos received favourable draws that should see both sides progress beyond their immediate opponents in Champions League Qualifying Third Round.
Olympiakos will face the winner of the tie between Zrinski Mostar from Bosnia and Slovan Bratislava from Slovakia, and should the Greek side win, they will progress to the play-off round of the Champions League.
On paper, Olympiakos’ path looks somewhat more manageable than that of Panathinaikos, as the reds play fellow champions from some of UEFA’s lower ranked leagues.
In contrast, Panathinaikos has a more difficult route to the Champions League Group Stage, as they face second and third ranked teams from some of Europe’s powerhouse leagues.
Nonetheless, they will feel relatively blessed after drawing Sparta Prague of the Czech Republic, one of the weakest sides available to them. Should the greens progress past this two-legged tie, they will come up against some of the bigger names in the play-off round.
The two Greek teams will play their first game abroad on July 28/29 and the return at home on August 4/5.
If they qualify they will enter the play-offs draw on August 7 where they will find out who their obstacles will be on their way the competition’s group stage.
Zrinjski Mortar, Olympiakos’ opponents are currently holding a slender lead over Slovan Bratislava, the biggest name in this tie, as this week they beat them 1-0 at home in Mostar.
The second leg is in Bratislava next week. Sparta is particularly familiar to Panathinaikos as 11 months ago the two teams met again for last year’s third qualifying round of the Champions League.
Panathinaikos then won twice (2-1 away and 1-0 at home). They also met in 2002, when Panathinaikos also won by the same score, 2-1.
(Formerly UEFA Cup)
In the Europa League, PAOK will be facing Valerenga from Norway, with the first matches in the Europa League taking place on July 30 and the second on August 6.
AEK enter the Europa League in the following round, the Play Off round and which will take place in late August.
Larissa will have a considerable task on their hands next Thursday if they want to progress in the Europa League after losing 2-0 to KR Reykjavik in Iceland on Thursday night.
Frustratingly for coach Marinos Ouzounidis, the Greek side conceded the second goal in injury time in the second half.
The home side had taken the lead in the 56thminute through Baldur Sigurdsson although the ball seemed to go in off Nikos Dabizas.
The goal came after Larissa had created several chances. The Thessalians were made to rue those missed opportunities when KR doubled their lead in the 93rdminute.
As the visitors went in search of an equaliser, they were caught on the counterattack and Bjorgolfur Takefusa broke free to slot the ball past Dino Seremet in the Larissa goal.
It could prove a costly mistake for the Greek side when the two teams meet for the return leg on July 23 at the Alcazar stadium.
The winner will progress to the next round and will face FC Basel of Switzerland.