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.
Still with me?
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 1 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…
AEK Larnaca scored minimal goals in the first qualifying round, but it was enough to win, defeating Petrocub Hîncești 2-0 on aggregate after a couple of 1-0 wins. The Cypriot club is hoping to improve on last season’s appearance in the group stage, reaching that stage for the second time this decade and finishing a distant third behind Bayer Leverkusen and Zürich.
Levksi Sofia did one better in each leg last round, defeating Ružomberok 4-0 on aggregate after two 2-0 victories. For only the third time in their last seven Europa League appearances, Levski has managed to win a round in the tournament, and another win would result in their first trip to the third qualifying round since they entered the tournament at that stage in 2011-12.
After opening their first qualifying match with a 0-0 draw against Gibralter in leg one, Legia Warsaw used the home field advantage to dominate the second leg, winning 3-0 to advance the the second qualifying round. This is the first season since 2015-16 that Legia Warsaw is beginning European competition in Europa League, but also the first time since that season that they’ve won a round in Europa League. Not that they haven’t found some success in Champions League, where they played in the group stage as recently as 2016-17.
KuPS has not had the same level of success in their European history, only twice previously winning at least a round in UEFA competition. Last round, they defeated Vitebsk 3-1 on the strength of a 2-0 victory at home.
FC Utrecht is an irregular participant in Europe, with its most recent visit coming in 2017-18. Prior to that, it played one round in 2013-14 and reached the group stage in 2010-11. During the 2017-18 competition, it made it through to the playoff round, losing to Zenit Saint Petersburg.
Zrinjski Mostar had little difficulty in the first qualifying round, beginning with a 3-0 on the road against Akademija Pandev, giving them a leg up in the important away goal tiebreaker. The tiebreaker wouldn’t matter in the end, as the home field match in leg two had the same 3-0 result. Last season, the Bosnian club reached the third qualifying round for the second time ever, and are hoping their strong performance in the first qualifying round this season will propel them further than they’ve ever reached in the tournament.
After coming from behind to force a 3-3 draw at home in leg one against Shkupi during the first qualifying round, Pyunik held on to win after two first half goals in North Macedonia in in leg two, advancing 5-4 on aggregate. It extends the Europa League stay for at least one more round, with the Armenian club looking to match last season’s third qualifying round appearance.
Jablonec is making its second consecutive appearance in Europa League, though it will be starting the tournament much earlier this year. Last season, the club made its debut in a European group stage, which it qualified for directly as the third place finisher in the Czech First League. It finished fourth in its group behind Dynamo Kyiv, Rennes, and Astana with a 1-2-3 record.
Lechia Gdańsk begins its march towards playing the Europa League final in its home stadium in this round. This will be the club’s debut in Europa League, and it’s only other appearance in European competition was an appearance in the now defunct European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1983-84.
They will continue that unlikely march to the final against Brøndby, who had very little difficulty in the first qualifying round, defeating Inter Turku 4-3 on aggregate after a dominating 4-1 victory in leg one. Having reached the playoff round in three of the past four seasons, Brøndby hopes to advance to the group stage for the first time since the 2005-06 UEFA Cup.
Fehérvár had little difficulty in the first qualifying round, opening with a 5-1 win against Zeta on the road. That would ultimately be their advancing score on aggregate as well. The former MOL Vidi played in the group stage of Europa League last season, finishing third in their group behind eventual champion Chelsea and BATE Borisov.
Vaduz, Liechtenstein’s lone representative in Europe for ages, has won at least one round in Europa League for the sixth straight season. They defeated Breiðablik 2-1 on the strength of a home victory by that score in leg two. They have not won two rounds in Europa League since the 2015-16 season, and have never advanced beyond the third qualifying round.
Gabala has qualified six straight Europa League tournaments, with its best result coming in 2016-17. That season, the club qualified for the group stage, and though it finished last, it was the second consecutive year that it had qualified for the group stage. Last season, however, the club lost to Progrès Niederkorn in the first qualifying round.
Dinamo Tbilisi had no issues in the first qualifying round, defeating Engordany 7-0 on aggregate, including a 6-0 shellacking at home in leg one. It was their first round win in Europa League since the 2011-12 tournament, when the club reached the playoff round.
This is the European debut in all competitions for Turkish club Yeni Malatyaspor as they just reached the Süper Lig for the first time during the 2017-18 season.
In Olimpija Ljubljana, they will face a club that needed a last minute goal in leg two to advance past RFS in the first qualifying round. Last season, the Slovenian club reached the playoff round, where they lost to Spartak Trnava after winning the prior two rounds by a combined score of 13-3.
Flora defeated Radnički Niš in the first qualifying round 4-2 on aggregate. In doing so, they won a round in Europe for the first time since the 2006-07 UEFA Cup. The Estonian club will be trying to advance through two rounds against a semifinalist from last season’s tournament, so I don’t necessarily like their chances to continue on this year.
German club Eintracht Frankfurt reached the semifinal of Europa League last season, losing to eventual champion Chelsea on penalty kicks. This year’s competition will also mark the 40th anniversary of Eintracht Frankfurt’s UEFA Cup championship from 1979-80.
Domžale v Malmö FF
Domžale played a back-and-forth match against Balzan in leg one, eventually winning 4-3 in Malta. The four away goals gave them the advantage in the event of a tiebreaker, but it was ultimately not needed, as they added a goal in the first half and advanced 5-3 on aggregate. The two wins were the first for the Slovenian in seven European matches (0-5-2).
Malmö FF had the biggest win in the first qualifying round, defeating Ballymena United 11-0 on aggregate. Last season, they played three matches in Champions League before coming to Europa League and reaching the Round of 32 and a loss to eventual Europa League champion Chelsea (the third club in this group that met the same fate, apparently).
Molde was another club that had little difficulty in the first qualifying round, defeating KR 7-1 on aggregate. The Norwegian club came up just short of the group stage in Europa League last season, losing to Zenit Saint Petersburg in the playoff round. The prior season, they reached the Round of 32, losing to eventual champ Sevilla.
Čukarički found little difficulty with Banants in the first qualifying round, dominating over two legs to win 8-0 on aggregate. A win for the Serbians in this one would mean their first trip to the third qualifying round of Europa League ever.
Both clubs in this matchup advanced through the first qualifying round with the same results, defeating RoPS and Fola Esch by identical 4-2 scores on aggregate. Aberdeen will be playing in the second qualifying round for the sixth consecutive season. Furthermore, in five of those seasons – last season’s loss to Burnley the only exception – they have reached the third qualifying round. Chikhura Sachkhere doesn’t have the same distinguished history, but they are in the second qualifying season for the second consecutive year, heading home last season after a loss to Maribor.
One of three matches this round featuring clubs that won’t have had to play prior to the matchup. Gent is a new addition to the tournament this week, joining after Mechelen was banned from the tournament and the rest of the Belgium clubs moved up a round. Last season they reached the playoff round, and three years ago they reached the Round of 16, where they lost to fellow Belgian club Genk. Viitorul Constanța will be playing in Europe for the fourth consecutive season, with last season being the first time that they won a round in any competition.
Budućnost Podgorica had little difficulty in the first qualifying round, defeating Narva Trans 6-1 on aggregate. It was only the third time in their past eight appearances in Europe that they won a round, and this matchup will be their first against a club from the much stronger Ukrainian Premier League.
Zorya Luhansk is playing in Europa League for the sixth straight season, and has back-to-back appearances in the group stage in 2016-17 and 2017-18. Last season, they came up just short, losing in the playoff round to Leipzig.
CSKA Sofia won 4-0 in leg one against Titograd, coasting to an easy win in their first qualifying round matchup. Last season, they reached the third qualifying round, but will have their work out for them in this one against this opponent.
Osijek is in their third straight Europa League competition, with their farthest advance coming in the first year of the run, a playoff round loss to Rapid Wien. Last season, they lost in this round to Rangers after defeating Petrocub Hîncești in the first qualifying round.
Torino wasn’t expecting to play in the tournament, finishing 7th in Serie A this past season. But with Milan’s ban due to a violation of financial fair play rules, they get the nod here. It will be their first trip to Europa League since an appearance in the Round of 16 during the 2014-15 tournament. Prior to that, they haven’t reached European competition since the 1992-93 UEFA Cup, which followed their loss in the final the previous season.
Debrecen used a 3-0 in leg one against Kukësi to all but clinch their first qualifying round matchup, making their return to UEFA competition a thus far successful one. Their last trip three years ago ended in the second qualifying round with a loss to Torpedo-BelAZ Zhodino, and Italian club Torino is likely a much tougher opponent than that random Belarusian squad.
This concludes part two of our second qualifying round preview. We’ll be back early next week with a look at the third qualifying round after it’s drawn on the 22nd.
Click here to continue on to the final part.
Until next time…
Last update: 21 July 2019 at 3:30pm EST.