Maccabi Haifa will be back in Greece sooner than it had anticipated after Friday's UEFA Cup third round draw that matched the club with AEK Athens. The Greek side was in the Champions League and is arguably a better - certainly more consistent - side than its city rival Olympiakos, which Maccabi beat 3-0 and then drew 3-3 to finish third in group F.
AEK completed all its six group matches against opponents Real Madrid, Roma and Genk in draws. The third round will be played on a home and away basis with the first leg in Athens on November 28 and the return leg almost certainly in Nicosia on December 12.
While the club is in financial straits, it is nevertheless challenging for the league title and is in joint second place in the Greek premier league together with Iraklis.
Other interesting pairings to come out of the pot in Geneva on Friday are three-time winners Liverpool with Dutch outfit Vitesse Arnhem and two Spanish-British duels.
Leeds, who put out Hapoel Tel Aviv, are drawn against Malaga with the first leg in Spain. Scottish champions Celtic's get their reward for a victory over England's Blackburn Rovers by being matched with Spain's Celta de Vigo, with the first leg in Glasgow.
England's third representative, Fulham, face Hertha Berlin, the Londoners looking the most difficult of the opponents drawn to meet German clubs. Schalke 04, who won the trophy in 1997, are up against Wisla Krakow, who eliminated Parma in the second round. Schalke ousted Legia Warsaw in the previous round. Stuttgart meanwhile come up against Club Brugge.
Spain's Real Betis have been paired with France's Auxerre, Belgian side Anderlecht meet Girondins Bordeaux, Italy's Lazio face Austrians Sturm Graz, Istanbul's Besiktas take on Dynamo Kiev and Portuguese hopes Porto play France's Lens in the pick of some of the other ties.
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