How Will Irish & British Teams Fair Out In Europe?
The draws for the second qualifying round of the Champions League and Europa League took place this morning, and we take a look at who some of the Irish and British clubs will face.
BATE Borisov v Dundalk
The champions of Belarus have won their domestic league title every year since 2006 and are formidable opposition for the League of Ireland holders.
They reached the group stage of the Champions League last season for the fourth time, losing all but one match; a 2-1 home win against Athletic Bilbao.
The Lilywhites will have to keep a close eye on 31-year-old striker Vitali Rodionov, who’s scored against the likes of Bayern Munich in the Champions League and has been top scorer in the Belarusian Premier League twice.
Dundalk can draw hope from the fact manager Stephen Kenny has beaten the Belarusians before – masterminding Bohemians to a 3-1 aggregate victory in 2003.
Stjarnan v Glasgow Celtic
The Icelanders beat Bangor City, Motherwell and Lech Poznan in last season’s Europa League before eventually succumbing to Inter Milan.
They won their first ever Úrvalsdeildar title last season, going the season unbeaten and will not be underestimated by Celtic boss Ronny Deila.
Ólafur Karl Finsen is their main attacking threat, notching eleven league goals last season and earning a first call-up to the national side.
B36 Torshavn v The New Saints FC
The Faroese champions were knocked out of the Champions League qualifiers by Linfield in 2012/13, who also beat them in last season’s Europa League.
Captain Jákup á Borg has been a prolific striker throughout his seven years at the club and had trials at the likes of Liverpool and Watford earlier in his career.
FC Levadia Tallinn v Crusaders
The Estonian title-holders beat Wales’ Bala Town in qualifying two years ago and were victors over Drogheda United in 2008/09.
Estonian international Ingemar Teever is the main goal threat for the Tallinn-based club.
FC Lusitanos v West Ham
Slaven Bilic’s side should have no problem against the Andorran minnows.
The Primera Divisió runners-up have played eight matches in European competitions, losing all but one.
KF Shkendija v Aberdeen
The Macedonian side won their first title in 2011 but had to settle for third place in their domestic league last season.
They shouldn’t pose much of a threat to the Dons, and were knocked out at the same stage two years ago by Northern Ireland’s Portadown.
Alashkert FC v St Johnstone
St Johnstone should have no problem overcoming their Armenian opposition, who finished just eighth in their league last season and are entering European competition for the first time.
FC Progres Niederkorn v Shamrock Rovers
The Hoops should be favourites against Luxembourg’s FC Progres Niederkorn, who hadn’t qualified for Europe since 1982 and have never won a European game.
KR v Cork City
The Reykjavik club are one of Iceland’s most decorated sides, last winning the title two years ago.
They have plenty of European experience and were knocked out of the Champions League qualifiers last season by Celtic.
Skonto FC v St Patrick’s Athletic
Skonto are one of Latvia’s most successful clubs, once winning a record 14 consecutive titles.
They have endured financial struggles in recent years but will pose a stern test for Pats.
F91 Dudelange v UCD
UCD qualified as a fair play entrant and may fancy their chances against another side from Luxembourg.
However, they have plenty of European experience and shocked Red Bull Salzburg in a Champions League qualifier three years ago.