Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Dinamo and Valur to Meet in First Round of Champions League Qualifiers

June 15, 2021 - Dinamo and Valur from Iceland will meet in the first round of the Champions League qualifiers after a draw decided the pairs on Tuesday. 

Dinamo found out about their opponent in the first round of the Champions League qualifiers, reports Index.hr.

The Croatian champion will play against Icelandic club Valur in the 1st qualifying round. Other potential rivals were Northern Ireland's Linfield, Maltese Hibernians, and one of the four clubs playing the preliminary round: Folgore (San Marino), Pristina (Kosovo), HB Torshavn (Faroe Islands), or Inter Club d'Escaldes (Andorra).

Valur last played in Europe in the 2019/2020 season, when they were eliminated by Slovenian club Maribor 5:0 in the Champions League, and then lost 5:1 in the Europa League against Bulgarian club Ludogorets. The season before that, the Icelandic representative reached the third qualifying round of the Europa League and lost to the Moldovan club Sheriff because of an away goal. 

Transfermarkt estimates the value of Valur at three million euros, and the most expensive footballer is the Danish striker Patrick Pedersen (400 thousand euros). Valur also has three footballers who have registered appearances for the national team. Birkir Mar Saevarsson played 98 games for Iceland, goalkeeper Hannes Thor Halldorsson defended in 76 games for the Iceland national team, and Kaj Leo Bartalsstovu wore the Faroe Islands jersey 27 times.

The draw for the second qualifying round, also in Nyon, will take place on Wednesday, starting at 12:00. Dinamo will then find out who they will play should they beat Valur. 

The first match of the 1st Champions League qualifying round will be played on July 6 or 7, while the return match is scheduled for July 13 or 14. Dinamo hosts the first game.

Due to great results in Europe in recent seasons, the Croatian champion will be the leader in all qualifying rounds.


Fola Esch (Luxembourg) - Lincoln Red Imps (Gibraltar)
Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia) - Shamrock Rovers (Ireland)
Malmö FF (Sweden) - Riga (Latvia)
Bodo Glimt (Norway) - Legia Warsaw (Poland)
Connah's Quay Nomads (Wales) - Alashkert (Armenia)
HJK Helsinki (Finland) - Buducnost Podgorica (Montenegro)
CFR Cluj (Romania) - Borac Banja Luka (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
Shkendija (Northern Macedonia) - Mura (Slovenia)
Teuta (Albania) - Sheriff Tiraspol (Moldova)
Dinamo Tbilisi (Georgia) - Nefchi Baku (Azerbaijan)
Maccabi Haifa (Israel) - Kairat (Kazakhstan)
Ludogorets (Bulgaria) - Shakhtar Soligorsk (Belarus)
Ferencvaros (Hungary) - winner of the preliminary round
Žalgiris (Lithuania) - Linfield (Northern Ireland)
Flora Tallinn (Estonia) - Hibernians (Malta)

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Saturday, 29 May 2021

Mateo Kovačić Wins 4th Champions League Title!

May 29, 2021 - Mateo Kovačić and Chelsea are the champions of Europe after defeating Manchester City 1:0 in the final tonight. 

Mateo Kovačić is the European champion with Chelsea! The Croatia national team player played the last 15 minutes in Chelsea's Champions League final win against Manchester City (1:0).

Kovačić had previously won three consecutive Champions League titles with Real Madrid, but never entered the pitch in any of the finals. He has thus played the Champions League final for the first time.

"Winning the Champions League is impressive. I did it three times with Real Madrid, but unfortunately, I never played in those finals. Despite that, I was there. And it's the team that wins. We all win and lose, as a team. Playing in the final would mean a lot to me," said the 27-year-old before the final, and coach Thomas Tuchel fulfilled his wish by bringing him on at the end of the match.

Croatia has had a Champions League winner every year since 2013, and Kovačić has extended this series for the ninth season. First, Mario Mandžukić celebrated with Bayern in 2013, followed by Luka Modrić with Real and Ivan Rakitić with Barcelona. After that, Luka Modrić and Mateo Kovačić were the best in Europe three times in a row, but Liverpool and Dejan Lovren broke Real's dominance in 2019. Last year, Ivan Perišić was better than PSG in the final against Bayern.

Source: Index.hr 

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Monday, 19 October 2020

15 Croatian Footballers Competing in Champions League, from Biggest Stars to Promising Talents

October 19, 2020 - This season, fifteen Croatian footballers will play in the Champions League. A look at the Croatian representatives, from the biggest stars to the promising young talents.

Less than two months after Bayern beat PSG 1:0 in the Champions League final in Lisbon and won their sixth European title, a new edition of the elite European club football competition begins this week.

However, this year, it is held without a Croatian representative because Dinamo failed to qualify, losing to Ferencvaros, who then skipped Molde and won its first appearance in the Champions League in 25 years.

The formula is still the same - 32 clubs are divided into eight groups of four teams. The first two clubs from each group will make it to the round of 16, third-place will move to the Europa League, while the last place team ends their European story.

Placing in the group stage gave clubs 15.2 million euro, a victory in the group stage is worth 2.7 million, and a draw is 900,000 euro. Placing in the round of 16 brings another 9.5 million euro, and the prizes go up to 19 million euro, which is what the European champion title awards.

However, this season, at least the first part of the competition, will be played under the great shadow due to the coronavirus. Because of the pandemic, the competition was suspended last season, and after it resumed, a final tournament was held with the top eight teams in Lisbon.

The coronavirus continues to threaten the competition. The matches will be played under strict epidemiological rules. Still, as the cases heat up again, there is a huge fear about if the competition will be played regularly and to the end.

"In an outstanding season, the European football community has shown the strength of unity off the pitch. Players and clubs have come together to help their local communities cope with national restrictions. Leagues, national associations, and governments have worked with UEFA to organize competitions in four different countries, which was an unprecedented feat for any sports organization in the world," UEFA President Alexander Ceferin said recently.

“Together, we have learned an important lesson for the future of our beautiful game, if we all work together, if we are willing to make sacrifices and solidarity, football can overcome any opponent,” he added.

Bayern will defend the title, and the circle of candidates traditionally includes Liverpool, Manchester City, PSG, Juventus, Barcelona, and Real Madrid. Last season, Lyon and RB Leipzig surprised by reaching the semifinals, as did Atalanta, who only lost in the quarterfinals at the very end against PSG, a finalist.

This year, Croatia will not have a representative in the Champions League. Still, the colors of Croatia will be represented by 15 players, two assistant coaches (Igor Tudor and Ognjen Vukojević), and one sports director (Darijo Srna).

The list is led by the former best football player in the world and the winner of four Champions League titles in the Real Madrid jersey, Luka Modrić. This season, we will also watch Ivan Rakitic (Sevilla), Dejan Lovren (Zenit), Mate Kovacic (Chelsea), Ivan Perisic (Inter), Marcelo Brozovic (Inter), Vedran Corluka (Lokomotiv), Sime Vrsaljko (Atletico Madrid) ), Ivo Grbić (Atletico Madrid), Mario Pašalić (Atalanta), Duja Ćaleta-Cara (Marseille), Dominik Kotarski (Ajax), Roko Baturina (Ferencvaros), Luka Sučić (RB Salzburg) and Matej Mitrović (Club Brugge).

Spain, England, Italy, and Germany have the most clubs, four each, and, interestingly, Russia has three clubs.

The first round starts on October 20 and 21, and the final sixth round will be played on December 8 and 9. This season's final is in Istanbul at Ataturk Stadium.


GROUP A: Bayern Munich (Germany), Atletico Madrid (Spain), RB Salzburg (Austria), Lokomotiv Moscow (Russia)
GROUP B: Real Madrid (Spain), Shakhtar (Ukraine), Inter (Italy), Borussia Moenchengladbach (Germany)
GROUP C: Porto (Portugal), Manchester City (England), Olympiakos (Greece), Marseille (France)
GROUP D: Liverpool (England), Ajax (Netherland), Atalanta (Italy), Midtjylland (Denmark)
GROUP E: Sevilla (Spain), Chelsea (England), Krasnodar (Russia), Rennes (France)
GROUP F: Zenit (Russia), Borussia Dortmund (Germany), Lazio (Italy), Club Brugge (Belarus)
GROUP G: Juventus (Italy), Barcelona (Spain), Dynamo Kyiv (Ukraine), Ferencvaros (Hungary)
GROUP H: PSG (France), Manchester United (England), RB Leipzig (Germany), Istanbul Basaksehir (Turkey)


Group E: Chelsea - Sevilla, Rennes - Krasnodar (21:00)
Group F: Zenit - Club Brugge (18:55), Lazio - Dortmund (21:00)
Group G: Dynamo Kyiv - Juventus (18:55), Barcelona - Ferencvaros (21:00)
Group H: PSG - Manchester United, Leipzig - Istanbul Başaksehir (21:00)


Group A: Salzburg - Lokomotiv Moscow (18:55), Bayern - Atletico Madrid
Group B: Real Madrid - Shakhtar Donetsk (18:55), Inter - Borussia Monchengladbach
Group C: Manchester City - Porto, Olympiacos - Marseille
Group D: Ajax - Liverpool, Midtjylland - Atalanta

Source: Gol.hr

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Thursday, 17 September 2020

Ferencvaros Knocks Out Dinamo in 3rd Qualifying Round of Champions League

September 17, 2020 - Big Croatian football news as Ferencvaros knocks out Dinamo in the 3rd qualifying round of the Champions League. 

Dinamo Zagreb will not play in the Champions League this season after they lost in the third qualifying round in Budapest to the Hungarian champion Ferencvaros 1:2. Dinamo will continue their European path in the final round of the Europa League qualifiers.

Ferencvaros took the lead in the 80th second of the game with a goal by Gerg Lovrencsics. Still, Dinamo equalized in the 23rd minute after an own goal by former Lokomotiva player Myrt Uzuni. Ferencvaros reached a new advantage in the 65th minute with a goal by Uzuni, who redeemed himself for Dinamo's equalizer.

The Hungarian champions retaliated against Dinamo for last season's defeat, also in the 3rd qualifying round of the Champions League.

Recall, Dinamo was knocked out by a Hungarian club for the first time in their European history. Until Wednesday night's match, Dinamo played against Hungarian clubs seven times and passed all seven times. Three times they knocked out MTK, twice Ferencvaros, and once ZTE and Gyor.

With the victory against Dinamo, the Hungarian champion advanced to the Champions League play-offs in which they will play against the winner of Karabakh - Molde, but also secured European autumn. If they win in the final round of qualifications, Ferencvaros enters the group-stage competition of the Champions League, while with a defeat, they move to the group-stage competition of the Europa League.

With this defeat to Ferencvaros, Dinamo dropped out of the Champions League qualifications, and their European story will continue in the playoffs or the last qualifying round of the Europa League.

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Monday, 31 August 2020

Europa League 2nd Qualifying Round Draw: Hajduk v Renova, Osijek v Basel

August 31, 2020 - Hajduk and Osijek, the two Croatian representatives that will compete in the second qualifying round of the Europa League, have found out their rivals. Hajduk v Renova and Osijek v Basel.

Only one game is played at this stage of the competition. Hajduk will play against the Macedonian club Renova away, while Osijek plays against Basel at their stadium. The matches will be played on September 17, 2020. 

Renova finished last season in fourth place behind Vardar, Sileks, and Shkendija. The Macedonian club beat the Armenian club Alashkert 1-0 in the first round. This is their return to Europe after five years. They have played six times in Europe, and their biggest success was the elimination of Rijeka in the Intertoto Cup in 2008. They were the champions of Macedonia in 2010.

Next to Tottenham, Basel is the club with the highest odds in the Europa League qualifiers. They were stopped by Shakhtar in the quarterfinals last season. Basel was the Swiss champion last in 2017. They passed the group stage of the Champions League three times in the last ten years, and in 2013, played in the semifinals of the Europa League. The most valuable player of the club is the Brazilian striker Arthur. His value is estimated at six million euro. He scored 18 goals and, along with Fabian Frei, was the club's top scorer. Arthur tested positive for the coronavirus, so his performance against Osijek is still in question.

Tomorrow, the draw of the third qualifying round will be held, and Rijeka and Lokomotiva will join Hajduk (not-seeded) and Osijek (seeded due to the Basel coefficient). Rijeka will be a top-seed, and Lokomotiva will not. The third qualifying round matches are scheduled for September 24, 2020. 

Furthermore, Dinamo is the only Croatian representative in the Champions League qualifiers. The Croatian champion has drawn Hungarian Ferencvaros in the third qualifying round. 

Only one match is played in Budapest on September 15 or 16. In the second qualifying round, Dinamo played away and eliminated Romanian club Cluj on penalities. 

Source: Index.hr

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Saturday, 29 August 2020

Croatia Team Manager Iva Olivari Named UEFA Delegate in Women's Champions League Final

August 29, 2020 - The team manager of the Croatia men's national team, Iva Olivari, was named the UEFA delegate in the women's Champions League final match.

After performing the same duty at the quarter-final match between Arsenal and PSG on August 22 and the semi-final match between Wolfsburg and Barcelona on August 25, Iva Olivari will be a delegate to the grand final, the clash of Wolfsburg and Lyon at the Anoeti Stadium in San Sebastian, HNS announced.

It is the highest official position in UEFA competitions, and the role includes controlling and supervising all aspects of the organization of the match.

"It is my great pleasure and exceptional honor to be a delegate in the final match of the Champions League. I thank UEFA and the Croatian Football Federation, led by President Davor Suker, who recognized my work and decided to nominate me for this position after many years in the Federation," said the Vatreni team manager.

“There will be two big rivals in the final, teams that are always at the top of women’s football, and I am eager to attend such an exciting match,” Olivari added.

In addition to Olivari, Croatia will have another representative in the grand final - the assistant referee of the final match of the Champions League will be Sanja Rodak-Karsic. The Croatian representative was in the same role in the Champions League final two years ago in Kyiv when the teams of Wolfsburg and Lyon also met, and the French side celebrated 4-1 after extra time.

Rodak-Karsic has already reffed at both the World and European Championships, including the final of the 2017 European Champs in the Netherlands.

Ivana Martincic was chosen as one of the ten main referees at the final tournament of the Champions League in Spain. However, she did not get a chance in the quarterfinals, semifinals, and final.

The lead official will be Switzerland's Esther Staubli, while Sanja Rodjak-Karsic and Ukrainian Oleksandra Ardasheva have been appointed assistants. The fourth official will be Czech Jan Adamkova.

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Thursday, 27 August 2020

Champions League Qualifiers: Dinamo Moves Forward after Dramatic Penalty Shootout

August 27, 2020 -  Dinamo is in the third qualifying round of the Champions League. The Zagreb club celebrated in Romania against Cluj on Wednesday after a penalty shootout.

After 120 minutes, the match ended 2:2, and all Dinamo players scored penalties except Amer Gojak, while the home team missed two.

Goals for the Croatian champions, who played 70 minutes with a player down thanks to Theophile's red card, were scored by Gojak and Lirim Kastrati. Dinamo led twice, but the home team managed to come back both times. It was especially painful for Dinamo when Debeljuh scored in the 92nd minute for extra time.

During the penalty shootout, Dinamo won 6:5. Interestingly, this is only the second time that penalties have decided Dinamo's fate in the Champions League. The first time the Zagreb club was eliminated by Sheriff in the 2010 Champions League.

Match recap

Cluj entered the match better, but Dinamo soon found their rhythm and in the 14th minute, the "Blues" took the lead. After a short tussle with the defender, Ivanusec shot, Balgradean defended, but Gojak rebounded to find the back of the net.

Cluj had their first big chance in the 20th minute, but Deac shot high. Five minutes later, the host threatened again, this time in front of Dinamo's goal. In the 36th minute, Cluj had another chance. Deac shot from a free-kick, the ball bounced off the wall to Chipciu who shot brilliantly into the near corner, but Livakovic was ready.

In the very end of the first half, Dinamo had two great opportunities, but failed to succeed - Orsic and Dilaver both hit the crossbar.

Unfortunately, the second half brought big problems for Dinamo. The crucial moment happened in the 51st minute when Theophile-Catherine earned a red card. The French stopper committed a foul on Debeljuh by pulling him from behind, which the Portuguese referee rewarded with a penalty kick and exclusion.

Deac took the penalty, but Livakovic defended brilliantly. Unfortunately, the home team equalized in the 64th minute, anyhow. Pereira shot from 25 meters, and Livakovic reacted badly by receiving a goal for 1-1.

In the 78th minute, Dinamo took a new lead. Kastrati scored for the 2-1 lead.

In the remaining minutes, Cluj rushed for an equalizer and extra time, and when it already seemed that Dinamo would celebrate, the host equalized in the second minute of the referee's added time. The goal was scored by 23-year-old Croatian striker Gabriel Debeljuh.

Petkovic lost the ball in the middle of the pitch, after which Cluj sprinted for the counter. The ball came on the wing to Rondon who sent a great ball into the penalty area where Debeljuh scored for 2-2 and extra time.

In extra time, Dinamo coped very well with the player less and managed to bring the match to penalties.

Two Croatian football players played for Cluj - Gabrijel Debeljuh and Damjan Đoković. Both the whole game.

Dinamo will be the leader in the third qualifying round as well, and they will certainly not play against Young Boys, Red Star, Qarabag and Maccabi. Potential rivals for the Croatian champion are Molde, Midtjylland, Ferencvaros, Omonia and Dinamo from Brest.

The draw for the third qualifying round is on August 31, and one game will be played on September 15 or 16. The playoffs will be played in two games on September 22/23 and September 29/30.

Lokomotiva failed to advance for the 3rd qualifying round of the Champions League after losing to Vienna's Rapid 0-1 in the 2nd qualifying round at Kranjčevićeva Street Stadium. The only goal of the match was scored by Ercen Kara in the 32nd minute.

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Sunday, 23 August 2020

Ivan Perisic Becomes 11th Croatian Footballer to Win Champions League Title

August 23, 2020 - Croatia national team representative Ivan Perisic was an important part of the Bayern Munich team that won the Champions League final on Sunday in Lisbon.

Ivan Perisic won the Champions League title with Bayern Munich and thus continued the incredible streak of Croatian footballers to achieve the same success.

This is the eighth year in a row that Croatia has had a representative in the Champions League final. 

This fantastic series began in 2013 when Mario Mandzukic won the Champions League with Bayern. Mario was succeeded by Luka Modric and Real Madrid, then Ivan Rakitic with Barcelona before Modric, Kovacic, and the Real team conquered the European title for three years in a row.

Last year, Dejan Lovren and Liverpool conquered Europe, and now Perisic has entered this prestigious list, winning the legendary Cup with Bayern Munich.  

Bayern Munich topped Paris Saint-Germain in Lisbon on Sunday night. The match was played without the presence of spectators. 

Croatians in Champions League final:

1993. ALEN BOKŠIĆ (Marseille)
1994. ZVONIMIR BOBAN (Milan)
1995. Zvonimir Boban (Milan)
1997. Alen Bokšić (Juventus)
1998. DAVOR ŠUKER (Real Madrid)
2002. Boris Živković, Marko Babić, Jurica Vranješ (Bayer Leverkusen)
2003. DARIO ŠIMIĆ (Milan), Igor Tudor (Juventus)
2004. Dado Pršo (Monaco)
2005. IGOR BIŠĆAN (Liverpool)
2007. DARIO ŠIMIĆ (Milan)
2010. Ivica Olić, Danijel Pranjić (Bayern)
2012. Ivica Olić, Danijel Pranjić (Bayern)
2013. MARIO MANDŽUKIĆ (Bayern)
2014. LUKA MODRIĆ (Real Madrid)
2015. IVAN RAKITIĆ (Barcelona)
2017. LUKA MODRIĆ, MATEO KOVAČIĆ (Real Madrid), Mario Mandžukić, Marko Pjaca (Juventus)
2018. LUKA MODRIĆ, MATEO KOVAČIĆ (Real Madrid), Dejan Lovren (Liverpool)
2019. DEJAN LOVREN (Liverpool)
2020. IVAN PERIŠIĆ (Bayern)

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Monday, 10 August 2020

Lokomotiva Player Tests Positive for Coronavirus

August 10, 2020 - A Lokomotiva footballer has tested positive for coronavirus, whose name has not been released. The club issued a statement on Sunday evening. 

"A Lokomotiva player who returned to Zagreb with a fever after a five-day break was tested for COVID-19 and the result was positive. According to the Personal Data Protection Act (GDPR), we are unable to disclose the identity of an infected person. The competent epidemiological service was immediately notified, which imposed a measure of strict self-isolation on the player, all following the recommendations of the Croatian Civil Protection Headquarters and the HNS working group," Lokomotiva said.

This is the first case of coronavirus infection in the HNL, reports Index.hr.

"Even though the player was not in contact with the players of the first team after returning from vacation, intensified supervision will be carried out in the next period, and they will react promptly based on the epidemiological situation. In the coming period, the first team will train in strict conditions, without the use of locker rooms, with regular temperature measurements in accordance with the protocols of UEFA and HNS. The players and the professional staff will be tested for COVID-19 during the week, and on two more occasions before the match of the 2nd qualifying round for the Champions League, in accordance with UEFA protocol.

The rest of the team, according to the instructions of the epidemiological service, does not have to go into self-isolation, but all activities in the club will be held under stricter protection measures. The competent epidemiologist estimated that there were no elements of additional risk for the club, but the Working Group for the return of HNS competition recommended increased supervision and additional hygienic and epidemiological measures," reads the statement published by Lokomotiva on its website.

Lokomotiva will continue its preparations for the upcoming season, but under special protection measures. The training match in Karlovac, which was supposed to take place on Monday night, was canceled, as well as the trip to Mreznica, to the hotel-restaurant Mirni kut in Zvecaj, where the team was supposed to stay until Wednesday. All training will be held at Kajzerica.

For now, there is no danger that UEFA will expel Lokomotiva from the qualifications for the Champions League because of this case. UEFA can, however, apply rigorous measures to a certain club in case that club does not have 13 healthy players.

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Thursday, 6 August 2020

UEFA to Allow Balkan Clubs to Meet in European Qualifiers

August 6, 2020 - UEFA will allow Balkan clubs from Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to meet in the Champions League and Europa League qualifiers, with one exception.

Index.hr reports that UEFA has lifted restrictions that clubs from Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina cannot meet in the Champions League and Europa League qualifiers.

However, the rule that clubs from BiH and Serbia cannot play against Kosovo clubs still applies (and the same rule applies to national teams from before).

This practice was introduced in 2007 after the riots in Mostar at the match between Zrinjski and Partizan.

As the upcoming qualifiers of European competitions will be played in a changed format with only one match, and without the presence of spectators in the stands due to the coronavirus pandemic, UEFA has decided on this move.

Hajduk can thus play against Serbian representatives Vojvodina, Partizan and TSC Backa Topol, and Bosnian clubs Zrinjski, Zeljeznicar and Borac from Banja Luka.

Dinamo can draw Crvena Zvezda or Sarajevo in the qualifications for the Champions League, and Osijek can play against Zrinjski or Vojvodina in the qualifications for the Europa League.

This week (Friday and Saturday), the Champions League matches continue, and two matches will be important for the Croatian champion. Dinamo should start the competition in the 2nd qualifying round, but could also skip it if certain teams win in the quarterfinals of this season and qualify for the next edition of the elite European competition through the domestic championship.

This means that Dinamo will cheer for the rivals of Inter and Lyon in the Champions League round of 16 - Juventus and Barcelona. Napoli played 1:1 in the first meeting with Barcelona, and Lyon celebrated against Juventus 1:0. 

It is also important for Dinamo that if Napoli and Lyon do not win the Champions League, Ajax will be placed directly in the groups, and the Croatian champion will certainly be the leader in all qualifying rounds.

In the third round of qualifications for the Champions League, only one game will be played, a draw will decide the host, and Dinamo will be a top seed. Two games will be played in the playoffs, and Dinamo will be among the four top-seeded there (if Ajax goes directly to the group stage) with Red Bull, Olympiakos and Celtic. The third qualifying round draw is scheduled for August 31, 2020. 

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