NYON, Switzerland (AP)Three Ukrainian soccer teams learned their paths to European competitions on Tuesday in the UEFA draws for the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League playoffs.
None of the teams will be able to play home matches because of the war with Russia.
Aiming to join Shakhtar Donetsk in the group stage of the Champions League, Dynamo Kyiv would have to beat either two-time European champion Benfica or Midtjylland in the playoff round if it advances that far.
Dynamo first has to play Sturm Graz in the third qualifying round. The Ukrainian team will host the first leg on Wednesday in neighboring Poland.
In the second-tier Europa League, Dnipro-1 enters at the playoff stage and was drawn Tuesday to face Partizan Belgrade or AEK Larnaca. Dnipro-1 will host the first leg on Aug. 18, likely in neighboring Slovakia.
UEFA officials expressed hope for peace in Ukraine before each draw ceremony at the European governing body’s headquarters. Ukrainian clubs did not attend. UEFA has barred Russian teams from all its competitions.
Both Dynamo and Dnipro-1 are sure to play in the group stage of a European competition in September, each making at least several millions euros (dollars) in prize money from UEFA.
Dynamo will enter the group stage of the Europa League if it is eliminated from the Champions League, and Dnipro-1 will switch to the third-tier Europa Conference League if it fails to advance from the Europa League playoffs. Dnipro-1 is a new and separate club from Dnipro, which fell into bankruptcy soon after playing in the 2015 Europa League final.
The money is essential revenue for rebuilding clubs that have lost key players and haven’t played Ukrainian league games since December. The league was scheduled to resume from a winter break on Feb. 25 but was shut down when Russia invaded the country one day earlier.
The league was later stopped altogether and no title was awarded, though UEFA accepted the top five teams in the standings as entries to its club competitions this season. A new league season is set to start on Aug. 23 in eastern Ukraine with few players from other countries remaining with their clubs.
Fifth-place Vorskla Poltava was eliminated last week in the second qualifying round of the Europa Conference League by Swedish club AIK. The team played its ”home” game in Stockholm and is set to earn 350,000 euros ($358,000) in UEFA prize money.
Also Tuesday, Zorya Luhansk – fourth in the Ukrainian league last season – could face either Lugano or Hapoel Beer-Sheva in the Europa Conference playoffs. Zorya first has to play Universitatea Craiova in the third qualifying round. The first leg at ”home” is scheduled for Thursday in Lublin, Poland.
Teams from Europe’s big-five leagues also entered the Europa Conference playoff draw. West Ham will play either Viborg or B36 Torshavn with the first leg at home, Villarreal is at home first against Hajduk Split or Vitoria, and Fiorentina hosts the first leg against Twente or Cukaricki.
The first legs are scheduled for Aug. 18, and return games are set for one week later.
In the Champions League playoffs, 1988 European Cup winner PSV Eindhoven or Monaco will host Belgian club Union Saint-Gilloise or Rangers, while Copenhagen is at home first against Trabzonspor.
The first legs will be played on Aug. 16 or 17, with the return games set for Aug. 23-24.
The playoff winners will join 26 already qualified teams – including Shakhtar, which will play home games in Warsaw – in the Champions League group-stage draw on Aug. 25 in Istanbul.
Losing teams go into the group stage of the Europa League. That draw will take place the next day and includes Manchester United, Arsenal and Roma.
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