The Europa League third qualifying round is upon us, kicking off with a few matches tomorrow and continuing through 15 August. Twenty-six new clubs enter this round – 11 losers from Champions League and 15 secondary qualifiers from various European leagues – joining the 46 winners from the second qualifying round. Teams coming over from the Champions League will only play other clubs that did the same until we reach the group stage.
By the time you are likely reading this post, the draw for the playoff round will also be completed, which will feature the 36 winners from this round and six clubs from the Champions League third qualifying round. Like we’ve done with the previous three rounds, we will break the round into three separate posts (click here for Part 1 and Part 3) due to the vast number of matches to be played. We are a little over 6 weeks from the group stage, and that draw will happen at the end of the month upon the conclusion of the playoff round.
Again, you can check here to see how all the new clubs qualified for Europa League. And away we go…
Antwerp has not played in European competition since the 1994-95 UEFA Cup, a 10-2 loss to Newcastle United in the first round. But this was only their second season back in the Belgian First Division A since being promoted after the 2016-17 season.
Viktoria Plzeň is coming off a loss to Olympiacos in the second qualifying round of Champions League, losing the second leg 4-0 after a scoreless draw in the opening leg. Last season, the Czech club lost to Dinamo Zagreb in the Round of 32 in Europa League last season, after reaching the Round of 16 the prior season.
Austria Wien enters the fray this round after a fourth-place finish in the Austrian Bundesliga last season. Their last two seasons in European competition – the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons – they reached the group stage. Their last trip to Europa League started with a match against Cypriot club AEL Limassol, so maybe that bodes well for this season as well.
Apollon Limassol has reached the group stage in the past two Europa League competitions, though they needed extra time to defeat the Shamrock Rovers in the second qualifying round. They haven’t played an Austrian club in their extensive European history, so their trip to Vienna this week will be their first competitive match in that country.
Feyenoord begins this season’s Europa League this round after finishing third in the Eredivisie last season. During last season’s competition, they lost to Trenčín in the third qualifying round, which followed a group stage entry (and departure) in the Champions League.
Dinamo Tbilisi won their second straight round, defeating Gabala 5-0 on aggregate. They have scored 12 goals over two rounds this season without surrendering a goal. Their last trip to Europa League prior to this season was a trip to the playoff round during the 2011-12 tournament, and they are two matches away from reaching that point once again.
Brøndby scored two goals in extra time during leg two against Lechia Gdańsk last round, advancing 5-3 on aggregate and preventing the Polish club from playing in the Europa League final in their home stadium. 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, but will have a difficult matchup this round.
Their opponent Braga enters the tournament this round after a fourth place finish in Primeira Liga last season. They are hoping this foray into the tournament goes more like two seasons ago – a Round of 32 loss to Marseille – and not last season’s third qualifying round loss to Zorya Luhansk. This will be their first match against a Danish club in European competition.
After a scoreless draw in leg one, Molde defeated Čukarički 3-1 on the road in leg two to win the round. 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.
Aris had a similar situation: a scoreless draw in leg one against AEL Limassol, followed by a road win in leg two. The only difference was the final score, with Aris only scoring once to win 1-0. The last time the club played in Europa League – an appearance in the 2010-11 Round of 32 – saw Aris play Norwegian club Rosenborg in the group stage, their only two matches against a club from Norway in UEFA competition.
It’s a matchup of cup winners that finished in the bottom half of their respective leagues, with Lokomotiv Plovdiv (10th) and Strasbourg (11th) surprisingly making through their second qualifying round matches.
Lokomotiv Plovdiv advanced on away goals after a 3-3 draw on aggregate against Spartak Trnava, while Strasbourg held on to defeat Maccabi Haifa 4-3 on aggregate. Neither club has had regular appearances in Europe – Lokomotiv Plovdiv’s last European appearance was 2012-13, while Strasbourg’s was 2005-06 – but one of them will be playing in the playoff round after two more matches.
Thun is back in European competition for the first time since the 2015-16 season, which ended with a loss to Sparta Praha in the playoff round. And they return with their first match ever against a Russian club in a competitive match.
Spartak Moscow enters the tournament here too as well after a 5th place finish in the Russian Premier League, and are hoping to improve on their fourth place finish during the group stage in last season’s Europa League.
FCSB is one round away from matching last season’s playoff round appearance in Europa League, and they’ve done so by outscoring their opponents (Milsami Orhei and Alashkert) 9-4 through two rounds. They’ve played 12 matches against clubs from Czech Republic during their European history, with a 4-5-3 overall record, though they have yet to play Mladá Boleslav.
Mladá Boleslav defeated Ordabasy 4-3 last round, holding on to win leg two in Kazakhstan 3-2 after a 1-1 draw during leg one. They have failed to advance past the third qualifying round their past two trips to Europa League, and have not played in the group stage since the 2007-08 UEFA Cup.
Pyunik was a surprise victor in the last round, defeating Jablonec 2-1 on aggregate on the strength of a 2-1 home victory during leg one. This will be their first match against an English club in European competition.
The Wolves proved that they belonged in the tournament, easily dispatching Crusaders from Northern Ireland 6-1 on aggregate. With this favorable draw, they are perhaps two matches away from matching Burnley’s playoff round appearance from last season.
Midtjylland, the Danish Cup winners from last season, joins the tournament at this stage yet again. However, last season, they joined Europa League in the third qualifying round only after losing to Astana in the second qualifying round of Champions League. Last season’s European run ended in the playoff round with a loss to Malmö FF, and this match up will be their first against a Scottish club.
Rangers have been one of the more dominating clubs through two rounds of Europa League qualifying, unscored upon while compiling a 3-1-0 record with a +12-goal differential. They’ve also found previous European success against Danish clubs, never losing while going 5-1-0 over six matches with a +10-goal differential.
Mariupol is in Europa League for the second straight season – and only the third time ever – after a 4th place finish in the Ukrainian Premier League last season. In last season’s Europa League, they entered the tournament in the second qualifying round, winning against Djurgårdens IF before losing to Bordeaux the following round.
AZ Alkmaar defeated BK Häcken in the last round, winning 3-0 in Sweden during leg two after a scoreless leg one. While they don’t qualify for European competition every season, they do seem to do pretty well when they do, reaching at least the play-off round in their prior five trips to Europa League. Mariupol will be the fifth different Ukrainian club they have played in their European history.
AEK Larnaca remains unscored upon through two rounds of Europa League after defeating Levski Sofia 7-0 during the second qualifying round. They are another round win away from matching last season’s appearance in the group stage, and hoping to improve on that third-place finish. To do so, they’ll have to do well in their first match against a Belgian club.
Gent also score seven goals last round, though their final result seemed a little closer, a 7-5 victory over Viitorul Constanța. Another win for the surprise Belgian entry and they match last season’s playoff round appearance. This marks their first match against a club from Cyprus.
Be sure to click here to look at the final third of the Europa League third qualifying round.
Until next time…
Last update: 5 August 2019