Ajax to play APOEL or Qarabag if it reaches CL playoffs

NYON, Switzerland (AP) — Ajax will face either APOEL or Qarabag if it reaches the Champions League playoffs, after the draw was made Monday.

Four-time European champion Ajax, which reached the semifinals in May, still has to play Greek side PAOK Thessaloniki in the third qualifying round.

Ajax met APOEL in the 2014-15 Champions League group stage, drawing 1-1 in Cyprus and winning 4-0 in Amsterdam.

Ajax won the Dutch league last season and was one minute from the Champions League final before being eliminated by Tottenham’s stoppage-time winning goal.

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However, it sold star midfielder Frenkie de Jong to Barcelona and teenage captain Matthijs de Ligt to Juventus.

Slavia Prague and Young Boys are the only two teams to enter straight into the Champions League playoff round.

Czech champion Slavia Prague will face either Cluj or Celtic, while the Swiss champion plays either Red Star Belgrade or FC Copenhagen.

Porto or Krasnodar will face Olympiakos or Istanbul Basaksehir, while Basel or LASK will play Dynamo Kiev or Club Brugge, and Dinamo Zagreb or Ferencváros will face Maribor or Rosenborg.

First-leg games are played Aug. 20-21, and return matches on Aug. 27-28.

The six winning teams go through to the elite 32-team group stage.

The third qualifying round begins Tuesday and will be completed on Aug. 13.

Teams which are eliminated transfer across to the Europa League, in either the playoff round or straight into the 48-team group stage in September.

The Europa League playoff round draw was also made Monday. The loser of the match between Ajax and PAOK will play Slovan Bratislava or Dundalk.

Eintracht Frankfurt, last season’s semifinalist, will face Lokomotiv Plovdiv or Strasbourg if it beats Vaduz in the third qualifying round.

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