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APOEL, AEK and AEL set to learn Euro opponents

APOEL, AEK Larnaca and AEL will get their new season campaigns officially underway on Monday with the draws for the Champions League and Europa League qualifying rounds set to take place in Nyon.

Cypriot clubs have been enjoying some good success in Europe since 2008, despite problems such as match-fixing and hooliganism continuing to plague the local game on the island.

APOEL will be involved in the second qualifying round of the Champions League and will get their first game underway on July 11 while AEK and AEL will get their new season underway in the first qualifying round of the Europa League. AEL and AEK will get their first games under way on June 31.

Apollon Limassol will begin their European games in the second qualifying round of the Europa League. Their first game will be on July 27.

Last season, APOEL dropped into the Europa League groups after losing to FC Copenhagen in the Champions League playoffs. But the Cypriot champions managed to top their group above Olympiacos, Young Boys and Astana to become the first club from the island to reach the knockout stage of Europe’s second-tier competition.

They then stunned La Liga club Athletic Club 4-3 on aggregate in the Last 32 before then losing to Anderlecht 2-0 on aggregate in the Last 16. Back in 2012, APOEL had created an even bigger shock in world football after managing to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

AEK Larnaca and AEL Limassol will be expected to seal their place in the second qualifying round of the Europa League, but could face some potential banana skins in the first qualifying round.
Both league runners-up AEK and AEL have reached the Europa League group stages in the past, with the Larnaca club having become the first Cypriot club to reach the group stage in 2011, while AEL played in the Europa League groups the following year.

Last season, Imanol Idiakez’s AEK reached the Europa League playoffs – after stunning Spartak Moscow – but lost out to Slovan Bratislava.

Bruno Baltazar’s AEL, who finished fourth last season, were last in Europe in 2014, where they were knocked out of the Europa League playoffs by Tottenham. Cyprus Coca-Cola Cup winners Apollon will get their European adventure under way in the second qualifying round of the Europa League, having featured twice before in the group stages.

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