Like the Champions League, the first qualifying round of Europa League held its draw on Tuesday morning. Unlike Champions League, however, Europa League has more than twice as many clubs participating in the round (94 vs 32 in UCL), which precludes me from writing as much as I did on the much smaller Champions League draw.
Nevertheless, and though they are available elsewhere, below is the draw for the first qualifying round of Europa League, which will see the first leg kick off around Europe on 11 July (with leg two played a week later). In this post, I’m going to simply point out the clubs’ European history; if you want to see how the clubs earned their spot, feel free to check out our Europa League Qualifiers page.
In match number order (this will matter for subsequent rounds), here is the draw for the first qualifying round for Europa League. The club listed first plays host for leg one on 11 July:
Match 1: Malmö FF v Ballymena United
Malmö FF’s last season in Europe was… last season. They began the year in Champions League, and won two rounds before being eliminated by MOL Vidi in the third qualifying round. Once in Europa League, they advanced through the playoff round and finished second in Group I behind Genk. They then met ultimate Europa League champion Chelsea in the Round of 32, succumbing 5-1 on aggregate. They’ve played one club each from Northern Ireland and the Faroe Islands in their European history and have not lost, compiling a 3-1-0 record with a +8 goal differential. Ballymena United won leg one 2-0 at home during the preliminary round, and advanced after drawing at NSÍ Runavík in leg two. It was the first time they’ve ever won a round in Europe, and the leg one victory was their first in Europe since a win against Vorwärts Frankfurt in the 1980-81 UEFA Cup. Chances are their European trip ends here this year, but solid progress from the Northern Ireland club nonetheless.
Match 2: Connah’s Quay Nomads v Kilmarnock
The Nomads are in their fourth consecutive Europa League first qualifying round, but the lone time they have won a round was their first appearance in 2016-17. They lost in this round to Shakytor Soligorsk last season. Kilmarnock returns to UEFA competition for the first time since the 2001-02 UEFA Cup (former name of Europa League), when they won one round and finished with a 2-1-1 record.
Kuopion Palloseura (KuPS) is in their fourth Europa League this decade, and second consecutive trip. Last season, they lost to Copenhagen in this round. Vitebsk hasn’t played in Europe since an appearance in the now defunct Intertoto Cup in 1999, so this is somewhat of a debut for them.
Match 4: Breiðablik v Vaduz
Breiðablik is back in Europa League – and European competition – for the first time since a one-and-done appearance in 2016-17. They’ve gone as far as the third qualifying round of Europa League during their previous four European appearances. Vaduz, Liechtenstein’s lone representative in European competitions, has been just that every season since 2013-14. Their average finish over those past six seasons has been the second qualifying round, and they’ve won at least one round in five straight seasons.
Match 5: Brann v Shamrock Rovers
Brann took last season off from Europe, but is back with a vengeance. Over a decade ago, they reached the Round of 32 in Europa League, but have since struggled to even qualify. Shamrock Rovers are making their fifth consecutive trip to Europa League, and will look to seek revenge on Norway for their second qualifying round loss in 2015-16 (to Odds BK). They last reached the group stage in Europa League in 2011-12.
Match 6: Ordabasy v Torpedo Kutaisi
This will be Ordabasy’s fifth appearance in Europa League and first since 2017-18. In their four previous visits, they have a 1-6-5 overall record and have only once won a round (their first appearance back in 2012-13). Torpedo Kutaisi qualified for Champions League last season, but lasted only one round. They then made it to the playoff round in Europa League, losing to Ludogorets Razgrad. Last season’s Champion League appearance was their first in that tournament since 2002-03.
Match 7: Europa v Legia Warsaw
Europa overcame a 3-2 defeat to Sant Julià in leg one of the preliminary round, winning 4-0 at home in leg two and advancing 6-3 on aggregate. As such, they advanced past their first round for only the second time ever and hope to extend their European vacation against a very tough Polish club. Legia Warsaw has played in European competition every season beginning with the 2011-12 Europa League, where they advanced to the round of 32. Including that season, they’ve reach at least the group stage on five occasions, most recently in the 2016-17 Champions League. Last season, they started out in Champions League, losing to Spartak Trnava in the second qualifying round. After the shift to Europa League, they lost to F91 Dudelange in the third qualifying round.
Match 8: CSKA Sofia v Titograd
CSKA Sofia has qualified for their second consecutive Europa League (after taking three seasons off from Europe completely), and are coming off a third qualifying round appearance last season, where they lost to Copenhagen. Titograd has played in European competition for five straight seasons – and six of the last seven – but has yet to advance past the third qualifying round in either competition.
Match 9: Gżira United v Hajduk Split
Gżira United is back in Europa League after last season’s debut (the 1973-74 European Cup Winners’ Cup as their only other prior appearance in Europe). Last season, they won a preliminary match against Sant Julià, before losing in the first qualifying round to Radnički Niš. Hajduk Split extends its Europa League appearance streak to 13 seasons (starting with the 2007-08 UEFA Cup), with the best finish remaining a group stage appearance in 2010-11. It has also been eight seasons since Hajduk Split left the competition after one round, so that’s a streak they will look to continue.
Match 10: Flora v Radnički Niš
Flora is making its fifth consecutive European trip, and have only missed one season (2014-15) since the turn of the century. Despite its success in reaching the competitions, Flora hasn’t found much success once it gets there, winning a round only once (in 2006-07). Last season, they started in Champions League, losing to Hapoel Be’er Sheva, then following up that loss in Europa League with a loss to APOEL. Radnički Niš returned to Europa League competition for the first time since 1983-84 last season, succumbing to Maccabi Tel Aviv in the second qualifying round.
Match 11: Maccabi Haifa v Mura
Maccabi Haifa has not played in Europe since they reached the group stage in the 2013-14 Europa League competition, where they finished third in Group L behind AZ and PAOK. They will meet Mura from Slovenia, who will be making their European debut in this matchup.
Debrecen returns to European competition after a two-season hiatus. In their last trip, during the 2016-17 Europa League, they defeated La Fiorita in the first qualifying round and lost to Torpedo-BelAZ Zhodino in the next round. they’ve reached the group stage twice in Europe: 2009-10 Champions League and 2010-11 Europa League. Kukësi has reached Europe in every season that they’ve been in the top flight in Albania, a stretch that began with the 2013-14 Europa League tournament. Last season, they started in Champions League, winning their first round against Valletta before losing to Qarabağ. Once in Europa League, it was a short stay after a loss to Torpedo Kutaisi in the third qualifying round.
Čukarički is also coming back to European competition after a short hiatus, having last played in Europa League in 2016-17. That season capped a three-year run by the Serbian club that saw them reach the second qualifying round in each season, a streak they hope to continue this season. Banants booked its second consecutive trip to Europa League, and are hoping to find a win in the competition, having not won a match since 2009-10. Over 26 matches played in European competition, they’ve compiled a 4-3-19 record, with a goal differential of -38. Yikes!
UPDATE: As expected, Banants added to their failures in Europe, conceding eight goals and scoring none over the past two weeks to Čukarički. The Serbian club awaits the winner of Molde and KR for next week’s second qualifying round, while Banants returns home to prepare for the upcoming Armenian Premier League season.
Match 14: Jeunesse Esch v Tobol
Jeunesse Esch is back in Europa League after a two-year break. In their last appearance during the 2016-17 competition, they were eliminated by St Patrick’s Athletic in the first qualifying round. Tobol is back for the second consecutive year, and hope to repeat last season’s performance, when it won its first qualifying round match against Samtredia before losing to Pyunik in the second qualifying round.
Match 15: FCSB v Milsami Orhei
Fotbal Club Steaua București of Romania is back in the Europa League (directly) for the second consecutive year. Last season, they reached the playoff round, losing to Rapid Vienna and missing out on a chance to return to the group stage for the third consecutive year. Milsami Orhei has a slightly less robust recent history, losing in the first qualifying round in each of the last two seasons.
Match 16: Crusaders v B36 Tórshavn
Crusaders has played in Europe every season since 2011-12, mostly in Europa League (but including three short trips to Champions League. One of those trips was last season, where they lost to Ludogorets Razgrad in the first qualifying round, then subsequently lost to Olimpija Ljubljana in Europa League. B36 has played in Europe every season since 2014-15, and had their most successful European campaign last season, winning two rounds in Europa League before falling to Beşiktaş in the second qualifying round.
Last update: 16 July 2019 at 4:30pm EST