Nice draw Ajax, OM to face Oostende
OGC Nice face a stiff test in the bid for a Champions League group-stage berth after drawing heavyweights Ajax in the third preliminary round. Marseille will battle Belgians Oostende at the same stage of the Europa League.
Friday's draw for the third preliminary round of qualifying for the 2017-18 UEFA Champions League campaign was not a clement one for Lucien Favre's OGC Nice side, who will face the might of Ajax home and away (on July 25 or 26 at the Allianz Riviera and on August 1 or 2 in Amsterdam) as they look to secure a place in the prestigious competition's play-offs.
Nice's third-placed finish last season earned them a chance to return to Europe's top club competition after a 57-year hiatus but, even though fellow Ligue 1 Conforama side AS Monaco made a run to the semis after starting at the same stage, they will have their work cut out for them against the side who beat Lyon for a place in last season's Europa League final and who count no fewer than four Champions titles among their honours.
Meanwhile, Olympique de Marseille received the relatively merciful draw of Belgian side Ostende in the third qualifying round of the Europa League. Under new boss Rudi Garcia, OM hit their straps at the end of last season to finish fifth and, after a busy summer transfer window that has already seen them recruit the likes of Valère Germain, Steve Mandanda and Luis Gustavo, the southern giants will be hopeful hitting the ground running in the home-and-away tie to be played in Marseille on July 27 and in Oostende on August 3.
Meanwhile, last season's sixth-placed Ligue 1 Conforama side Girondins de Bordeaux must wait for the result of the second qualifying round tie between Estonian club Kalju and Hungarian outfit Videoton. Like Marseille, Bordeaux will play the crucial second leg away from home.