Draw deals soccer clubs a good hand

Soccer clubs AEK and Olympiakos stand a reasonable chance of advancing to the round of 16 at the European Champions League, judging by their opponents at the group stage. The draw placed Olympiakos in Group D, with Roma of Italy, Valencia of Spain and Shakhtar Donetsk of Ukraine. None is a powerhouse, but not one is a weak team, making this one of the more balanced groups. AEK has a somewhat easier job in Group H, dominated by Italy’s Milan. Its main opponents for second place, which leads to qualification, will be France’s Lille, while Anderlecht of Belgium is the weakest team but not exactly a pushover. To qualify, AEK must improve over Wednesday night’s listless performance against Scottish club Hearts. Despite playing with a 2-1 advantage from the first, away leg, AEK failed to push for a goal until late in the game, with two red cards having left the Scots with nine players. The 3-0 win allowed it to advance to the group stage in the Champions League.

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