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Celtic will face Slavia Prague in Champions League play-off if they overcome Cluj

The Czech giants were knocked out of the Europa League quarter-finals by Chelsea last season.

Scott Brown during Celtic's second qualifying round meeting with Nomme Kalju.
Scott Brown during Celtic's second qualifying round meeting with Nomme Kalju.
Image: Andrew Milligan

CELTIC WILL FACE off against Slavia Prague in the Champions League play-offs if they manage to overcome Romanian champions CFR Cluj in the third qualifying round.

Neil Lennon’s side beat FK Sarajevo 5-1 on aggregate in the opening qualifying round, before seeing off Nomme Kalju FC 7-0 in the second qualifying round.

Slavia Prague made it all the way to the quarter-finals of the Europa League last season, where they were knocked out by Chelsea, who would be crowned champions in Baku.

Last season’s Champions League semi-finalists Ajax will take on either Qarabag, who knocked out Dundalk last week, or Apoel Nicosia in this year’s playoff for the group stage if they find a way past PAOK Thessaloniki in the third qualifying round of the showcase European club competition.

The Dutch side do not get automatic entry to the groups despite winning the Eredivisie for the 34th time and coming within seconds of reaching the final of last season’s campaign.

Juventus v Ajax - UEFA Champions League - Quarter Final - Second Leg - Allianz Stadium Dundalk's conquerors Qarabag could face Ajax in the play-offs. Source: Steven Paston

It is not the easiest of ties for Ajax who have already lost several players from their exciting young squad, with central defender Matthijs de Ligt at Juventus and midfielder Frenkie de Jong joining Lionel Messi at Barcelona.

First, however, they have to see off PAOK, who went unbeaten on their way to winning the Greek Super League, finishing five points ahead of Olympiakos as they claimed their first league title in more than three decades.

The first leg of the third round in Greece takes place on Tuesday, with the return leg seven days later in Amsterdam. The playoff ties will be held on 20/21 and 27/28 August.

Two-time European champions Porto will face either Istanbul Basaksehir or Olympiakos if they beat Krasnodar, while Red Star Belgrade — who won the competition in 1991 — will face Swiss outfit Young Boys if they beat FC Copenhagen.

- © AFP, 2019

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