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 2) 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…
Legia Warsaw remains unscored upon through four matches in this season’s Europa League, but Atromitos will prove a tough test. It will be the Polish club’s first match against a Greek squad in Europe since a defeat of Panathinaikos during the first round of the 1996-97 UEFA Cup, which moved them to 1-2-3 all-time against Greek clubs.
For only their second time in a relatively short European history, Atromitos has won a round in Europe, with their 5-3 win over DAC Dunajská Streda joining 2015’s third qualifying round victory over AIK. That win over AIK also prefaced their one and only appearance beyond the third qualifying round.
After a 2-0 victory at home during leg one, Haugesund held on to defeat Sturm Graz 3-2 on aggregate, scoring a goal in the 68th minute to clinch the victory. On their third attempt in Europa League, they have finally reached the third qualifying round, and they will be facing one of the more elite squads entering the tournament at this point.
That squad, PSV Eindhoven, is coming off an appearance in the Champions League group stage last season, though they lost to Basel during the Champions League second qualifying round last week, falling on away goals after a 4-4 tie on aggregate. Still, PSV has failed to reach at least the group stage in European competition only once since 2013-14, so Haugesund will have their work cut out for them in this one.
For the second straight season, Rijeka enters European competition in the third qualifying round of Europa League. They hope to avoid the one-and-done result of last season – a 2-1 loss to Sarpsborg 08 – as well as the result from the last time they met Aberdeen in Europa League during the 2015-16 season – a 5-2 loss in the second qualifying round.
Aberdeen should give the Croatian club a bit of pause: they are undefeated in Europa League (3-1-0) thus far, and are coming off of a 6-1 victory over Chikhura Sachkere during the last round. The Scottish club will be trying to win in the third qualifying round after four prior attempts in the past five years.
Ventspils has reached the third qualifying round for the first time since the 2013-14 competition. That trip ended with a loss to Maccabi Haifa, and it has been a decade since the Latvian squad reached the group stage during the 2009-10 season, which is also the only other time they’ve played . They easily defeated Gżira United in the last round, winning 6-2 on aggregate.
These season’s Europa League started a bit better for Vitória de Guimarães than their last foray into the tournament. They defeated Jeunesse Esch 5-0 on aggregate during the second qualifying round. Their match this week in Latvia will be their first in that country in UEFA competition.
Vaduz, Liechtenstein’s lone representative in Europe for ages, won two rounds in Europa League for the first time since the 2015-16 season, and will be looking to advance past the third qualifying round for the first time ever. They will attempt to do so in their first match ever versus a German foe, and one that reached the semifinals in Europa League last season.
Eintracht Frankfurt advanced after defeating Estonian club Flora Tallinn after two 2-1 matches during the second qualifying round. I’m sure that they want to continue their journey through the tournament to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their 1980 UEFA Cup championship.
Partizan’s 24th consecutive season in European competition continues after they defeated Connah’s Quay Nomads 4-0 during the second qualifying round. Last season, they reached the playoff round, losing to Beşiktaş.
Yeni Malatyaspor won in their debut round in Europe, defeating Olimpija Ljubljana 3-2 on aggregate, including a 1-0 victory in Slovenia. Quite an auspicious start for the club that just reached the top of Turkish football for the first time in 2018.
Malmö FF needed a late goal to seal their second qualifying round victory over Domžale, winning 5-4 on aggregate. Last season in Europa League, they lost to eventual champion Chelsea during the Round of 32, and will be looking to reach the playoff round once again in their first matchup against a club from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Zrinjski Mostar is playing in the third qualifying round for the third time in their history, and for the second consecutive season. Last year, they lost to Ludogorets Razgrad at this stage, but they have looked much more dominant through four matches this season than last. This will be their second European match against a club from Sweden, after making their European debut against Västra Frölunda in the 2000 UEFA Intertoto Cup.
CSKA Sofia needed penalty kicks to advance versus Osijek in the last round, and are striving to advance past the third qualifying round for the first time since starting in the playoff round during the 2011-12 Europa League tournament. In six previous matches against Ukrainian clubs, however, they are only 1-1-4, though with only a -1-goal differential.
They have never faced Zorya Luhansk in European competition, however, and the Ukrainian club is looking to reach the playoff round for the second consecutive season. In fact, during the prior five seasons, they have reached the playoff round three times, with the other two seasons starting at the group stage. They have never, however, played through the playoff stage and reached the group stage that way.
Neftçi Baku took full advantage of the European debut of Arsenal Tula in the second qualifying round, defeating the Russian rookie 4-0 on aggregate. They have now scored 13 goals over four matches in this season’s Europa League, and have yet to surrender a goal.
Last season’s winner of the Israel State Cup, Bnei Yehuda has advanced past the third qualifying round only once previously, a loss in the playoff round during the 2009-10 Europa League. Their last trip to Europa League two seasons ago saw them go home after a loss to Zenit Saint Petersburg during this round.
For the first time in their European history, Luzern advanced past their entry round after defeating KÍ Klaksvík 2-0 on aggregate in the second qualifying round. Making it two rounds could prove difficult, however, as they have drawn Espanyol this round. The Spanish club, back in European competition for the first time since the 2006-07 iteration of the UEFA Cup, easily defeated Stjarnan last round, winning 7-1 on aggregate.
Sparta Prague begins their tournament run this round, trying to snap a two-season streak of one-and-done appearances in Europa League. The season prior, they reached the Round of 32, losing to Russian squad Rostov. Trabzonspor would love to have found that level of “success” in Europe, as they are returning to European competition for the first time since a loss in the third qualifying round of the 2015-16 Europa League. It will be their first two matches against a club from the Czech Republic.
Universitatea Craiova needed penalty kicks to advance against Honvéd last round after the clubs played two scoreless draws. In four previous matches against Greek club Olympiacos – their only other matches against a club from Greece – they have a respectable 3-0-1 record, winning both rounds (though none more recent than 1984-85).
AEK Athens joins the tournament this round, looking to match their march to the group stage last season. They finished fourth in their group, but they are only two seasons removed from reaching the Round of 32 without losing a match in Europa League play during the 2017-18 tournament. They have found moderate success against Romanian clubs in the past, compiling a 3-0-3 record in previous matches.
Hope you enjoy all of the Europa League third qualifying round action over the next two weeks. We’ll be back before the playoff round to update who is playing whom as we get even closer to the very exciting group stage and beyond!
Until next time…
Last updated: 5 August 2019