Europa League: 2019-20 Second Qualifying Round (Part 3)

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 2) 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…

Main Path

Luzern v KÍ Klaksvík

Luzern has been in Europa League for four straight seasons – and seven of the last ten. Last season, they lost to Olympiacos in the third qualifying round, and have never advanced past their initial qualifying round in European competition. That streak covers 14 appearances in Europe, dating all the way back to their first ever appearance in the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1960-61.

Klaksvíkar Ítróttarfelag – commonly known as KÍ – is one of only two clubs from the preliminary round that have reached the second qualifying round (Progrès Niederkorn is the other). They easily handled Tre Fiori in the prelims (9-1 on aggregate), but needed an away goal tiebreaker win after drawing 1-1 with Riterai on aggregate in the first qualifying round. This is the best that the club has done in Europe, as they have never previously advanced past the first qualifying round.

Rangers v Progrès Niederkorn

Rangers had little difficulty dispatching their first qualifying round opponent St Joseph’s, winning 10-0 on aggregate, one of the more lopsided results from the round. Rangers reached the group stage in last season’s Europa League, and actually lost to this opponent in the first qualifying round the prior season.

Progrès Niederkorn survived Cardiff Metropolitan University in the preliminary round (thanks to the away goal tiebreaker), and defeated Cork City in the first qualifying round on the strength of a 2-0 win in Ireland in leg one. They are looking to match last season’s third qualifying round appearance, and will be doing it against an opponent they have some very recent history against.

Ventspils v Gżira United

Ventspils is back in the second qualifying round for the second consecutive season, and just like last season, they defeated an Albanian squad to get here (Teuta this season, Luftëtari last season). This season, they got out to a 3-0 lead at home in leg one, making the path to a Teuta victory difficult in leg two.

Gżira United used a different approach in their match against Hejduk Split. After losing leg one 2-0 at home, they had a deep hole to dig out of when action shifted to Croatia for leg two. Needing to overcome Hejduk’s two away goal-advantage, Gżira United succeeded, scoring the final three goals, including the clinching goal six minutes into added time, to win the match 3-1, and advance on away goals. A win against Ventspils would result in the Maltese club winning two rounds for the first time in their very brief European history.

Strasbourg v Maccabi Haifa

Strasbourg returns to Europe for the first time since a Round of 16 appearance in the 2005-06 UEFA Cup, where they lost to Basel. They qualified for Europa League this year by winning the French League Cup… while finishing 9th in Ligue 1.

Maccabi Haifa had little trouble with Slovenian club Mura during the first qualifying round. They won both legs easily, advancing 5-2 on aggregate at the end of the round. With their first round in Europe since 2016-17 behind them, they have a good chance of reaching the third qualifying round against Strasbourg, the surprise winner of the French League Cup.

Mladá Boleslav v Ordabasy

Mladá Boleslav missed Europa League last season, but has played in six of the past eight competitions (missing 2013-14 and 2018-19) since 2011-12. Their last visit saw them advance to the third qualifying round with a defeat of Shamrock Rovers before losing to Skënderbeu.

For the first time since 2012-13, Ordabasy has advanced past their qualifying round, defeating Torpedo Kutaisi 3-0 on aggregate last round. Their history in Europe isn’t as deep as their opponent, but they have managed to keep most of their matches close, and I wouldn’t expect different in this upcoming round either.

Shamrock Rovers v Apollon Limassol

Shamrock Rovers needed a late goal to win outright (4-3 on aggregate) against Brann in the last round (though they would have advanced on away goals had it remained tied on aggregate). It has been eight seasons since they last reached the group stage, so they hope to carry over their performance from last round against a very tough Cypriot club.

That club – Apollon Limassol – easily defeated Kauno Žalgiris in the last round, winning 6-0 on aggregate. They’ve reached the group stage in the past two Europa League competitions, and last year’s journey began with a first qualifying round win against a Lithuanian squad as well. Is that a good omen for this season as they look to advance past the group stage for the first time ever?

AZ v BK Häcken

The second of three matches this round pitting clubs starting during the second qualifying round. AZ Alkmaar has not played in Europe since the 2016-17 Europa League. In that tournament, they began in the third qualifying round and advanced through to the Round of 32. Maybe their performance there – an 11-2 loss to Lyon on aggregate – scared them away from Europe for a few seasons. BK Häcken has qualified for three of the past four Europa League tournaments, and advanced to the second qualifying round last season, losing to Leipzig.

Alashkert v FCSB

Alashkert is coming off a 6-1 win in the first qualifying round over Makedonija GP, but the last time they played a Romanian club in Europa League – CFR Cluj in last season’s third qualifying round – they lost 7-0. They are obviously hoping for a different result this time, and look to win two rounds in Europe for the first time ever.

FCSB also didn’t struggle much in the first qualifying round, winning 4-1 against Milsami Orhei. They advanced all the way to the playoff round in last season’s Europa League, so anything less this season, despite starting a round earlier, would likely be a disappointment.

Lokomotiv Plovdiv v Spartak Trnava

Lokomotiv Plovdiv is making their Europa League debut after winning the Bulgarian Cup last season, despite finishing 10th in the Bulgarian First League.

Spartak Trnava likely catches a break in this round after barely escaping on penalty kicks in the first qualifying round against Radnik Bijeljina. The Slovakian club reached the group stage in Europa Cup last season – after reaching the third qualifying round in Champions League – and are likely glad to be meeting a Europa League rookie.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Crusaders

The Wolves return to Europe since they lost to PSV Eindhoven in the first round of the 1980-81 UEFA Cup. This was their first season back in the Premier League since 2011-12, which makes it awfully hard to qualify for UEFA competitions. They are hoping to at least match Burnley’s run to the playoff round in last season’s Europa League as England’s 7th place squad.

Their first opponent in their run is coming off an impressive first qualifying round win, winning both matches against a clearly over-matched B36 Torshavn and advancing 5-2 on aggregate. But Crusaders have never won two rounds in a single European competition, and the Wolves will be a trying opponent, even if it is their first time in Europe in nearly 40 years.

Aris v AEL Limassol

The final match between two fresh clubs in the second qualifying round. Aris Thessaloniki is back in Europe for the first time since a Round of 32 appearance in the 2010-11 Europa League.

AEL Limassol returns after a one season hiatus, and they hope to replicate their performance in their last appearance. During the 2017-18 Europa League, they went 4-1-1, advancing to the third qualifying round, a loss to Austria Wien. They reached the group stage of Europa League for the first and only time in 2012-13.

Jeunesse Esch v Vitória de Guimarães

Jeunesse Esch is yet another club that advanced thanks to the away goal tiebreaker, doing so after an aggregate draw of 1-1 against Tobol in the first qualifying round. This will be Jeunesse Esch’s second ever trip to the second qualifying round, and a victory in the round would result in their first trip to the third round ever in European competition.

Vitória de Guimarães is starting a little earlier than they are used to, though they are probably happy to be back in the tournament. Their last visit during the 2017-18 season didn’t goal well, with a 1-2-3 record in the group stage dooming them to a fourth place finish.

Honvéd v Universitatea Craiova

Honvéd found little difficulty against Žalgiris in the first qualifying round, winning leg one 3-1 and holding on for the draw in leg two. The Hungarian squad has not advanced past the second round since the UEFA Cup days in the late 1980s, so they hope for their strong performance in the first round will carry over into this one.

Universitatea Craiova won both matches in the first round against Sabail by the same 3-2 score, advancing 6-4 on aggregate, thought Sabail did close the gap to one goal with 20 minutes left in leg two. The first qualifying round win was their first round win in Europa League since the 1990-91 competition, so while they are pleased with the result, I’m willing to bet they hope it doesn’t quite end just yet.

Shakhtyor Soligorsk v Esbjerg

Shakhtyor Soligorsk didn’t score a lot in the first qualifying round, but the they scored enough, defeating Hibernians 2-0 on aggregate on a couple of 1-0 victories. This is their ninth consecutive season in Europa League, and they have only won two rounds once, when the reached the playoff round in 2014-15 after beginning in the second qualifying round.

Esbjerg last qualified for European play with the 2013-14 Europa League, where they advanced to the Round of 32 and lost to Fiorentina. Prior to that, they hadn’t been in Europe since the 2005-06 UEFA Cup.

Connah’s Quay Nomads v Partizan

One of the more surprising results of the first qualifying round was Connah’s Quay Nomads victory over Kilmarnock. After losing leg one 2-1 at home, the odds were long with action shifting to Scotland for leg two. Nomads came through, however, scoring twice in the second half to win 2-0 to advance 3-2 on aggregate to reach the second qualifying round for only the second time ever.

Partizan reached the playoff round of last season’s Europa League, losing to Beşiktaşafter not dropping a match through the first three rounds of the tournament. The prior year, they went to the Round of 32. This will mark their 24th consecutive season in European competition.

This concludes our look at the second qualifying round in the 2019-20 Europa League. We’ll be back with a similar look at the third qualifying round after the draw early next week.

Until next time…

Last update: 21 July 2019 at 12:00am EST

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