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AEK Athens: All you need to know about Celtic's opponents

The Greeks will be at Parkhead on Wednesday for the Champions League third qualifying round.

The Athens squad landed before training at Parkhead.
The Athens squad landed before training at Parkhead. SNS

Celtic will host AEK Athens on Wednesday night for the first leg of the Champions League third qualifying round.

Ahead of the Parkhead fixture, STV offers the lowdown on the Greek champions.

History

Athlitikί Énosis Konstantinoupόleos, known as AEK Athens FC are a Greek club who were founded in 1924 by Greek refugees from Istanbul in a suburb of Athens.

They are the current Greek champions and are the third most successful club in their country.

AEK have appeared several times in Europe and they were the first Greek team to reach the Champions League group stages in 1994 after they defeated Scottish champions, Rangers, in the play off round.

In older times, they reached UEFA Cup semi-finals twice and reached a European Cup quarter-final in 1969.

AEK Athens' squads have consisted mostly of Greek players. Throughout their history, they have contributed to some of the national teams best players.

The golden team of Greece that won the Euro's in 2004 consisted of 5 AEK Athens players and most notably, the captain and player of the tournament, Theodoros Zakoragis.

What is their nickname?

Among many of the clubs nicknames, one of their most well known is Kitrinomavree, which means 'The Yellow-Blacks'.

Where do they play?

Home soil: The Olympic stadium is a multi-purpose ground which seats 69, 618 .
Home soil: The Olympic stadium is a multi-purpose ground which seats 69, 618 . SNS

The Yellow-Blacks' home is the impressive Olympic Stadium. The arena boasts a capacity of 69, 618.

How are they doing now?

AEK's domestic season will begin on 25th August and this is their first qualifying round in the Champions League.

Celtic will be studying their past season and style of play. The Yellow-Blacks aced their league and were crowned champions - winning by 6 points and losing only two games out of 30.

The Greek Super League is no easy achievement. Last year, the league was suspended when PAOK's owner infamously stormed onto the pitch with a gun. Greek football was close to being banned by FIFA for all footballing competitions.

The fact that Celtic's season has begun and they have already played two qualifiers can only be a positive for the Hoops.

Who's the manager?

Landed: Marinos Ouzounidis in Glasgow ahead of his first competitive game in charge.
Landed: Marinos Ouzounidis in Glasgow ahead of his first competitive game in charge. SNS

Brendan Rodgers will face Marinos Ouzounidis, who became manager on 25 May 2018. He did not win the league title with AEK. He was announced as manager just hours after the title winning manager, Manuel Jimenez left due to negotiations for a renewal of contract were unsuccessful.

Now manager, Marinos Ouzounidis joined AEK from their fierce Athen rivals - Panathinaikos F.C.

Marinos has enjoyed silverware success at APOEL FC in the Cypriot First Divsion.

This will be Marinos Ouzounidis first competitive game in charge of AEK Athens.

Key Players

Brendan Rodgers and Scott Brown have both earmarked AEK's forward pair as the danger men. Both forwards are known for their explosive pace and counter-attacking style of play.

It is expected that Celtic will start with Simunovic and Ajer in the centre of defence to try and put a halt to the rapid strikers.

Their captain, Petros Matolos, who is another key player is ruled out due to injury ahead of the clash at Parkhead.

AEK Athens manager, Marinos Ouzounidis has told STV regarding his captain's withdrawl:

"Petros is a good player, but we have other very good players."

Fans

AEK Athens also have a strong fan brand and identity, very similar to Celtic's.

Both Celtic and AEK Athens have a strong relationship and affiliation with St. Pauli of Bundesliga 2.

AEK Athens are reported to be part of a "triangle of brotherhood" which involves Livorno and Marseille as well.

AEK fans and relationships to other clubs are mostly ideologically.

Who will the winner play in the play-off round?

Losers: Celtic were defeated in the play-off round by Malmo in 2015.
Losers: Celtic were defeated in the play-off round by Malmo in 2015. SNSGroup

Celtic will face Swedish side Malmo or Hungarian outfit MOL Vidi in the Champions League play-off round if they overcome AEK Athens.

Brendan Rodgers has reached the group stages of the Champions League in his both his seasons in charge, but this year round has had to play an extra round.

Celtic came up against Malmo in the play-off round in 2015/2016 where they lost 4-3 on aggregate.

Malmo reached the European Cup Final in 1979, whereas MOL Vidi have never progressed as far as the group stages of the Champions League.

If Celtic fail to defeat AEK, they will drop into the Europa League play-off round, where they would face either Spartaks Jurmala of Latvia or Lithuanian side Suduva.

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