At the end of each soccer season in Europe, certain clubs from each country are invited by UEFA to participate in either the Champions League or Europa League tournaments based on their standings and performance in their respective national leagues and cups. In each tournament, some clubs qualify automatically while others participate in the qualification rounds. To make it easier for the casual fan, think of it like this: Champions League is mostly made up of the champions from each country (with some exceptions for talented teams) while the runner’s up typically make up Europa League. Some teams that are eliminated from Champions League can also enter a later round of Europa League. Yes, it sounds very confusing but that’s because it is very confusing.
So rather than bog you down with the details of each tournament, I’ll just update you with the status of each Greek club competing in these tournaments. Both Champions League and Europa League have completed the qualification rounds and will begin this week. They start off in a Group Stage similar to how the World Cup begins.
All in all there are 32 teams, broken up into eight groups of four. The top two teams from each group advance to the knock-out stage, while the 3rd place team from each group will earn a spot in the knock-out round of the other tournament, Europa League. Each team will play one another within their group twice, once at home and once away.
The only Greek club to qualify for Champions League is Olympiakos, and they earned their spot by winning the Greek Super League last year. Panathinaikos was participating in the qualifying rounds for this tournaments, however they were knocked out and moved over to Europa League. The draw took place on August 28, 2014 and Olympiakos found themselves in a group with Spain’s Atletico Madrid, Italy’s Juventus and Sweden’s Malmo, each of them having won the championship in their respective countries the previous season.
The first match for Olympiakos is against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday, September 16 at 2:45 PM EST.
All in all there are 48 teams, broken up into 12 groups of four. The top two teams from each group will advance to the knock-out stage, along with the eight 3rd place teams from the Champions League group stage. Like Champions League, each team will play one another within their group twice, once at home and once away.
There are three (yes three!) Greek clubs that qualified for Europa League, Asteras Tripoli (!!!), Panathinaikos and PAOK Salonika. The draw took place on August 29 and below are the three groups that each Greek club is in and how everyone placed in their respective national leagues the previous season.
Asteras Tripoli – 5th in the Greek Super League
Bestikas J.K. – 3rd in the Turkish Super Lig
Tottenham Hotspur – 6th in the English Premier League
FK Partizan – 2nd in the Serbian Super Liga
The first match for Asteras is against Bestikas on Thursday, September 18 at 1:00 PM EST.
Panathinaikos F.C. – 2nd in the Greek Super League
PSV Eindhoven – 4th in the Dutch Eredivisie
G.D. Estoril Praia – 4th in the Portuguese Primeira Liga
F.C. Dynamo Moscow – 4th in the Russian Premier League
The first match for Panathinaikos is against Dynamo Moscow on Thursday, September 18 at 1:00 PM EST.
PAOK F.C. – 3rd in the Greek Super League
FC Dinamo Minsk – 3rd in the Belarusian Premier League
ACF Fiorentina – 4th in the Italian Serie A
EA Guingamp – 16th in the French Ligue 1 but won Coupe de France
The first match for PAOK is against Dinamo Minsk on Thursday, September 18 at 3:05 PM EST.
Group Stage: September 16, 2014 – December 10, 2014
Round of 16: February 17, 2015 – March 18, 2015
Quarter-Finals: April 14, 2015 – April 22, 2015
Semi-Finals: May 5, 2015 – May 13, 2015
Final: June 6, 2015
Group Stage: September 18, 2014 – December 11, 2014
Round of 32: February 19, 2015 – February 26, 2015
Round of 16: March 12, 2015 – March 19, 2015
Quarter-Finals: April 16, 2015 – April 23, 2015
Semi-Finals: May 7, 2015 – May 14, 2015
Final: May 27, 2015
Best of luck to all the Greek teams, especially Asteras Tripoli! Tweet Me and let me know how you think each club will do!