By George Georgakopoulos
The road is open for Greek teams this summer to claim spots in the group stages of European competitions, as Friday’s draws for Panathinaikos in the Champions League and for PAOK and Asteras Tripolis in the Europa League were rather favorable.
In the third qualifying round of the Champions League Panathinaikos will face Scottish side Motherwell, with the first match in Scotland on July 31 and the return leg in Athens on August 8.
For the third qualifying round of the Europa League PAOK will face the winner of the tie between Bnei Yehuda of Israel and Shirak of Armenia. The Israelis are leading 2-0 from the first leg. Ties will be played on August 2 and 9.
Asteras Tripolis will face the might of Portugal’s Maritimo if it overcomes the challenge of Inter Baku. In its maiden game in European competitions last Thursday the Peloponnesian team drew 1-1 at Azerbaijan and will likely set up a clash with the side from Madeira after the return leg with Inter on July 26.
Atromitos will enter the Europea League from the playoffs in mid-August, while champion Olympiakos has already taken a group spot in the Champions League.
Panathinaikos has also been boosted by news that Greek internationals Costas Katsouranis and Giorgos Karagounis have agreed to stay at the club.
On the contrary, PAOK has decided to sell Greece Under-19 international Costas Stafylidis to Germany’s Bayer Leverkusen for 1.5 million euros, although the player will remain at the Thessaloniki club on loan for the new season.