For the 3rd preliminary round of the Champions League, Panathinaikos was drawn against Belgium’s 2nd best team of the 2013-2014 season, Standard Liege.
The Athenians avoided top teams, Russia’s Zenit of St Petersburgh and France’s Lille, however in the playoff round it will be inevitable to do so, since teams like Arsenal, Porto FC and Napoli are awaiting to qualify for the 2014-2015 Champions League’s group stages.
The first leg game will take place in Stade de Sclessin on July 30 and the rematch on August 6 in the “Leoforos” stadium in Athens.
The Belgium team faced Panathinaikos in the final 16 of the Europa League tournament back in 2009/2010 and managed to qualify with two wins, 1-0 at home and 3-1 away. The Greek team was considered back then one of the most talented squads, with Brazilian 2002 FIFA World Cup winner Gilberto Silva, Djibril Cisse, Sebastian Leto, Sotiris Ninis and Giorgios Karagounis in the roster.
In antithesis to the Greek league, where the top team doesn’t participate in the playoff round to determine the ultimate champion, Standard Liege finished first after the 34 games of the season, but lost the championship to Anderlecht after a mini round-robin tournament that saw them flop against weaker sides. Panathinaikos, on the other side, might have finished 5th, but clinched the 2nd spot after parading through PAOK, Atromitos and Asteras Tripolis in the playoffs.
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