NYON, Switzerland (AP) — Last season’s semifinalist Ajax will start its Champions League campaign against unbeaten Greek title winner PAOK Thessaloniki in the third qualifying round, after the draw was made Monday.
Four-time European champion Ajax began in the second preliminary round last July and was one minute from the final before being eliminated by Tottenham’s stoppage-time winning goal in May.
As the Dutch league winner, Ajax now starts one qualifying round later — on Aug. 6 or 7, with the first leg in Greece — needing to beat two opponents instead of three to join the elite 32-team group stage.
However, Ajax returns after selling star midfielder Frenkie de Jong to Barcelona and teenage captain Matthijs de Ligt to Juventus, and got the toughest possible opposition.
Ajax was the highest-ranked seeded team and PAOK was highest ranked in the pot of unseeded teams after being the only unbeaten league winner in Europe last season. Both are in the draw section just for national champions.
Porto, a two-time European champion, was paired with Krasnodar in a separate qualifying path for…