The Europa League second qualifying round draw was held last month, despite only knowing 27 of the 91 participants. The second qualifying round is the first round that will feature losing clubs from the preliminary and first qualifying round of Champions League – the “Champions Path” – with 47 winners from Europa League’s first qualifying round joining the 27 clubs that qualified directly for this round.
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Now that the first qualifying round is complete, we can finalize our slate of matchups for the second qualifying round. We’ll briefly touch on how the clubs got here, as well as their recent performances in European competitions. Action kicks off this round on 23 July, with leg two concluding on August 1st. Like the previous round, the draw for the next round will take place the day before action begins in this one, with a lot of holes waiting to be filled by winners. Unlike Champions League, losers of Europa League go home for the summer, likely to prepare for their upcoming league seasons.
Like we did with the first qualifying round, we’ll break the second qualifying round into three parts. (Click here for Part 2 and Part 3) The club listed first plays host to the first leg. This is also the first round where the “famous” clubs starts showing up – even in Europa League – so there will definitely be some noteworthy clubs on the list.
Again, you can check here to see how all the new clubs qualified for Europa League. And away we go…
There is one fewer loser coming over from the first qualifying round of Champions League because Chelsea’s Champions League victory vacated a group stage berth since they had already qualified based on league position (3rd in the English Premier League).
Sarajevo lost to Celtic in the Champions League first qualifying round, and through the luck of the draw, they get to advance directly through to the third qualifying round of Europa League. They will face the loser of BATE Borisov and Rosenborg from the Champions League second qualifying round. By reaching the third qualifying round, Sarajevo has their best performance in Europa League since they reached the playoff round in 2014-15, and they are now two matches away from matching that. They have never played in the group stage.
Tre Penne was the first club to join Europa League from Champions League qualifying when it lost 1-0 to FC Santa Coloma in the preliminary round. It comes to Europa League hoping to extend its European stay, and will get two matches in its attempt to do so. During its last visit to Europa League (2017-18), it lost to FK Rabotnički 7-0 on aggregate – including 6-0 at home.
Sūduva held Red Star Belgrade to a scoreless draw in leg one of the Champions League first qualifying league, but couldn’t take advantage in leg two, losing 2-1 in a match that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated. They also lost to Red Star Belgrade in Champions League last season, and reached the playoff round in last season’s Europa League competition.
Match 2: Piast Gliwice v Riga FC
Polish champion (for the first time) Piast Gliwice lost a heartbreaking match at home to BATE Borisov in the Champions League first qualifying round, ultimately helping the Belarusian squad to win 3-2 on aggregate. As this is only the third season ever that Piast Gliwice has played in Europe – and the first time since 2016-17 – their European history is not that extensive, but a win against Riga FC would mark their farthest advance and the first time that they’ve won a round in Europe.
Riga came even closer to winning during their Champions League debut, falling on a penalty shootout to Dundalk after two scoreless legs. It marks the second consecutive season that they lost a UEFA round on PKs (last season was a loss to CSKA Sofia in the first qualifying round of Europa League), so despite a 1-2-1 record over the past two years, they have yet to win a round.
Match 3: Partizani v Sheriff Tiraspol
Both clubs in this match up represent their respective associations’ final chance in Europe for this season, as the other three clubs from Albania and Moldova, respectively, lost in the first qualifying round. Partizani hasn’t won a round in Europe since the 2016-17 Champions League, and it’s been even longer for a round win in Europa League (the 2004-05 UEFA Cup). In fact, the Albanian champions have only won four rounds in 50+ years of European competition. They lost to Qarabağ in the first qualifying round of Champions League this season.
Sheriff Tiraspol got off to a slow start in their Champions League first qualifying round matchup against Saburtalo Tbilisi, losing 3-0 to the European rookies. They made up for it in leg two, erasing the deficit with three goals in 11 minutes, but they would ultimately lose 4-3 on aggregate. Last season, they made it to the playoff round of Europa League, losing to Qarabağ.
Match 4: Ararat-Armenia v Lincoln Red Imps
Ararat-Armenia was recently reformed, so their appearance in the Champions League first qualifying round was the first UEFA appearance for the club. They opened the round with a win at home against AIK, only to fall in the second leg in Sweden, and lost 4-3 on aggregate.
For the second consecutive season, the Lincoln Red Imps lost to the Kosovo champion in the preliminary round, falling 1-0 to Feronikeli (from Pristina, Kosovo no less). Playing in this round last season, the Lincoln Red Imps lost to The New Saints, and will be looking for their first victory in a Europa League match.
Match 5: Valur v Ludogorets Razgrad
Valur, the champions of Iceland for the second consecutive season, again lost in the first qualifying round, though this year their matchup against Maribor wasn’t particularly close. Valur lost 3-0 at home on their way to a 5-0 aggregate loss. They did win in this round last season after coming over after their Champions League loss last season, though they do face a tougher opponent this season than last.
Ludogorets reached the Europa League group stage the last two seasons, and reached the Champions League group stage three seasons ago. In fact, they’ve reached at least the group stage in five of the past eight seasons since first participating in UEFA competition beginning with the 2012-13 Champions League. Have to like the Bulgarian champs’ chances in this one.
Match 6: Slovan Bratislava v Feronikeli
Slovakian champion Slovan Bratislava came close to winning their Champions League qualifier last week, losing on penalty kicks to Sutjeska Nikšić after a 2-2- draw on aggregate. Last season, they reached the third qualifying round of Europa League, falling to Rapid Wien.
It was the debut season for Feronkeli in UEFA competition, and they advanced to the first qualifying round by winning the preliminary round playoff. They were in good position to advance on away goals in that round too, until The New Saints scored a late goal to advance 3-2 on aggregate. This is their first visit to Europa League as well.
Match 7: FC Santa Coloma v Astana
FC Santa Coloma could not take advantage of a man advantage in the Champions League preliminary round final, falling to Feronikeli 2-1. It was the second consecutive season they lost to a Kosovan team during the preliminary round. If they win in this matchup, they would advance past the second qualifying round in Europe for the first time ever.
Astana was hoping to last a bit longer in Champions League, especially after they reached the third qualifying round last season. They have played in the past three Europa League group stages, and even advanced through to the Round of 32 two years ago.
Match 8: HB Tórshavn v Linfield
HB hasn’t had much luck in Europe recently, having failed to win a match since the first qualifying round of the 2014-15 Champions League. They’ve been outscored by 16 goals in nine UEFA matches since that victory, and were not helped by their performance in the last round, a 5-2 loss (on aggregate) to HJK.
Linfield was one of the biggest losers in the Champions League first qualifying round, losing 6-0 on aggregate to Rosenborg. That matched the same score that sent them home from Champions League in their last trip to Europe, a loss to Celtic in the second qualifying round of Champions League in 2017-18.
Match 9: Shkëndija v F91 Dudelange
After scoring on a penalty kick in the 61st minute in their Champions League first qualifying round match against Nomme Kalju, Shkëndija seemed poised to advance in that tournament. Instead, after surrendering a goal in added time that allowed Kalju to advance on away goals, Shkëndija finds themselves in Europa League a little earlier than last season (they came over last season after three rounds in the “senior” tournament).
F91 Dudelange reached the group stage of Europa League last season, so maybe they just wanted to go on a repeat trip this season? They are mirroring their start to last season’s trip, losing in the first round of Champions League and coming over to Europa League. And it’s not like they “lost” a match last round, with Valletta advancing on away goals after they drew in both matches.
IFK Norrkoping returned to Europa League after a one season hiatus and had little issue with St Patrick’s Athletic in the first qualifying round, winning 4-1 on aggregate. In their last trip to Europa League, they lost to Riterai on penalty kicks in the second qualifying round.
Liepāja has a much shorter European history than their opponents yet again, only reaching Europe for the first time with the 2016-17 Champions League. But the defeated Dinamo Minsk in the first qualifying round, including the decisive 2-1 victory in Minsk. However, their Europa League competition ended last season at the hands of Swedish club BK Häcken, though they were victorious in Sweden last season. Can they make it 2-0 in the Sweden?
Hapoel Be’er Sheva eked out a victory against Laçi last week, winning 2-1 on aggregate. Last season, they lost to APOEL in the Europa League third qualifying round, which had to be a disappointment after reaching the group stage the prior two seasons (as well as a trip to the Round of 32 in 2016-17).
Kairat used two late goals in added time to advance 4-2 against Široki Brijeg in the first qualifying round – though they would have advanced on away goals had the score remained tied after the Bosnian club scored on a penalty kick as regular time ended. A win in this round would help them match last season’s appearance in the third qualifying round.
Arsenal Tula is making its European debut in this match after finishing 6th in the Russian Premier League last season.
Neftçi had one of the more lopsided victories in the first qualifying round, defeating Speranța Nisporeni 9-0 on aggregate. This helped them improve on last season’s one-and-done appearance in Europa League, and the could benefit from the debut of their opponent.
Espanyol last played in Europe in the 2006-07 iteration of the UEFA Cup, the precursor to Europa League. It finished as the runners-up to fellow Spanish club Sevilla. They qualified for that tournament after winning the Copa del Rey the previous season, but have not found much success in La Liga until last season, finishing in 7th place.
Stjarnan managed to advance last round on the away goal tiebreaker, defeating FCI Levadia 2-1 in that regard after the clubs tied 4-4 on aggregate. They have to hope that their recent Europa League experience gives them a leg up against a club returning to the competition for the first time in over a decade, but Stjarnan doesn’t have the greatest history against clubs from associations closer to the top of the UEFA rankings.
In only their second European appearance this century, DAC Dunajská Streda advanced to the second qualifying round for the second consecutive season. They defeated Cracovia on away goals after the clubs drew 3-3 on aggregate, with DAC Dunajská Streda scoring 2 in Poland to Cracovia’s 1 in Slovakia.
Greek club Atromitos is back in the Europa League second qualifying round for the second straight season. Last season, they lost to Dynamo Brest. Prior to that, it qualified for four consecutive Europa League tournaments from 2012-13 to 2015-16, with its best performance coming in the final season of the stretch, when it won a round before losing to Fenerbahçe in the playoff round.
Haugesund had little difficulty with Cliftonville in the first qualifying round, winning 6-1 on aggregate on the strength of a 5-1 win at home. However, the Norwegian club has failed to advance past the second qualifying round in two previous Europa League appearances, and this matchup will not be doing them any favors.
Sturm Graz will be playing in its third straight Europa League, though it did start out in Champions League last season. There, the Austrian club lost to Ajax, followed up by a loss to AEK Larnaca in the third qualifying round of Europa League. It has reached the group stage in Europa League as recently as 2011-12, however.
This concludes part one of our second qualifying round preview. We’ll be doing something similar with the 36 matchups of the third qualifying round after the draw on the 22nd.
Click here to continue on to the next part.
Until next time…
Last Update: 25 July 2019 at 12:00pm EST.