NYON: Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven will face either Azeri outfit Qarabag or Belarusians BATE Borisov for a place in the group stage of this season’s Champions League following the playoff draw on Monday.
Swiss club Young Boys, the only other team to play their first match in the playoff round, will meet either Astana or Dinamo Zagreb.
The final qualifying round games will be played this week and next week.
Two-time European champions Benfica or Turkish side Fenerbahce could face Russian club Spartak Moscow.
Portuguese giants Benfica and Fenerbahce go head-to-head in the third qualifying round, with the first leg in Lisbon on Tuesday, for the right to play either Greek side PAOK Thessaloniki or Spartak for one of the six remaining group-stage places.
Celtic, the 1967 champions, could face Sweden’s Malmo or Hungary’s Vidi FC.
The Scottish champions must first beat Greek side AEK Athens over two legs of their third qualifying round tie starting on Wednesday.
Changes to the qualifying criteria mean that the top four from each of the English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, Italian Serie A and German Bundesliga last season automatically reached this year’s group stage.
Four-time European champion Ajax, who finished second to PSV in the Dutch league, or Standard Liege will play either Slavia Prague or Dynamo Kiev and Red Star Belgrade or Spartak Trnava will meet Salzburg or Shkendija.
The first leg of the playoffs will be held on Aug. 21-22 with the return legs on Aug. 28-29. The six teams beaten in the playoffs will drop into the group stages of the second-tier Europa League.
Benfica, Spartak, Celtic and Qarabag all played in the Champions League group stage last season.
Draw: Red Star Belgrade (Serbia)/Spartak Trnava (Slovakia) v Red Bull Salzburg (Austria)/Shkendija (Macedonia); Qarabag (Azerbaijan)/BATE Borisov (Belarus) v PSV Eindhoven; Young Boys (Switzerland) v FC Astana (Kazakhstan)/Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia); Malmo (Sweden)/Vidi FC (Hungary) v Celtic (Scotland)/AEK Athens (Greece); Benfica (Portugal)/Fenerbahce (Turkey) v PAOK Thessaloniki (Greece)/Spartak Moscow (Russia); Standard Liege (Belgium)/Ajax (Netherlands)v Slavia Prague (Czech Republic)/Dynamo Kiev (Ukraine).
Published in Dawn, August 07th, 2018