UEFA Europa League

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Wolves find out opponents for Europa League campaign

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Wolverhampton Wanderers’ first European game in over 39 years will see them play in the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round draw.

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Wolves’ reward for finishing seventh in the Premier League last season is to play either the winner of Crusaders and B36 Torshavn. The former are from Northern Ireland and the latter are from the Faroe Islands.

Baring a huge shock, Wolves will be heading into the third qualifying round, and Nuno Espirito Santo‘s side will then have to play in the knockout round of the Europa League qualifying system as they are still six games away from making the group stage of the competition.

Wolves will use this competition as preseason and if they do end up making the group stage, it is pretty clear they will take their first European campaign since 1980 very seriously and they will be up their with the favorites to win it all.

The first round draw for both the UEFA Champions League and Europa League was made on Tuesday, and the second round for the Europa League has now set up the schedule through early August.

Below is the second qualifying round draw in full, with both the main path and the Champions path games taking place on July 25 and Aug. 1.


Second qualifying round main path – 25 July & 1 August (Seeded teams in bold)

IFK Norrkoping (SWE)/Saint Patrick’s (IRL) v Dinamo Minsk (BLR)/Liepaja (LVA)
Barry Town United (WAL)/Cliftonville (NIR)/Haugesund (NOR) v Sturm Graz (AUT)
Lechia Gdansk (POL) v Inter Turku (FIN)/Brondby (DEN)
Domzale (SVN)/Balzan (MLT) v Malmo (SWE)/Ballymena United (NIR)/NSI Runavik (FRO)
CSKA-Sofia (BUL)/OFK Titograd (MNE) v Osijek (CRO)

Laci (ALB)/Hapoel Beer-Sheva (ISR) v Siroki Brijeg (BIH)/Kairat Almaty (KAZ)
AEK Larnaca (CYP)/Petrocub-Hincesti (MDA) v Levski Sofia (BUL)/MFK Ruzomberok (SVK)
Zeta (MNE)/Fehervar (HUN) v Breidablik (ISL)/Vaduz (LIE)
Molde (NOR)/KR Reykjavík (ISL) v Cukaricki (SRB)/Banants (ARM)
Roma (ITA) v Debrecen (HUN)/Kukesi (ALB)

Arsenal Tula (RUS) v Neftçi (AZE)/Speranta Nisporeni (MDA)
UE Sant Julia (AND)/Europa (GIB)/Legia Warszawa (POL) v Vitebsk (BLR)/KuPS Kuopio (FIN)
Gabala (AZE) v Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO)/SP La Fiorita (SMR)/Engordany (AND)
Aberdeen (SCO)/RoPS Rovaniemi (FIN) v Fola Esch (LUX)/Chikhura Sachkhere (GEO)
Luzern (SUI) v Riteriai (LTU)/KI Klaksvik (FRO)/SP Tre Fiori (SMR)

Espanyol (ESP) v Stjarnan (ISL)/Levadia Tallinn (EST)
Utrecht (NED) v Akademija Pandev (MKD)/HSK Zrinjski (BIH)
Malatyaspor (TUR) v Olimpija Ljubljana (SVN)/Rigas FS (LVA)
Royal Antwerp (BEL) v Viitorul (ROU)
Prishtina (KOS)/St Joseph’s (GIB)/Rangers (SCO) v Cork City (IRL)/Progres Niederkorn (LUX)/Cardiff Met (WAL)

Cracovia Krakow (POL)/Dunajska Streda (SVK) v Atromitos (GRE)
Pyunik (ARM)/Shkupi (MKD) v FK Jablonec (CZE)
Radnicki Nis (SRB)/Flora Tallinn (EST) v Eintracht Frankfurt (GER)
Buducnost Podgorica (MNE)/Narva Trans (EST) v Zorya Luhansk (UKR)
Ventspils (LVA)/Teuta (ALB) v Gzira United (MLT)/Hajduk Split (CRO)

Strasbourg (FRA) v Maccabi Haifa (ISR)/NS Mura (SVN)
Wolverhampton (ENG) v Crusaders (NIR)/B36 Torshavn (FRO)
Mlada Boleslav (CZE)
 v Ordabasy Shymkent (KAZ)/Torpedo Kutaisi (GEO)
Aris Thessaloniki (GRE) v AEL Limassol (CYP)
Brann (NOR)/Shamrock Rovers (IRL) v Kauno Zalgiris (LTU)/Apollon Limassol (CYP)

Jeunesse Esch (LUX)/Tobol Kostanay (KAZ) v Vitória SC (POR)
AZ Alkmaar (NED)
v Hacken (SWE)
Budapest Honved (HUN)/Zalgiris Vilnius (LTU) v Sabail (AZE)/Universitatea Craiova (ROU)
Alashkert (ARM)/Makedonija Skopje (MKD) v FCSB (ROU)/Milsami Orhei (MDA)
Shakhtyor Soligorsk (BLR)/Hibernians (MLT) v Esbjerg (DEN)
Lokomotiv Plovdiv (BUL) v Radnik Bijeljina (BIH)/Spartak Trnava (SVK)
Connah’s Quay (WAL)/Kilmarnock (SCO) v Partizan (SRB)


Second qualifying round Champions Path – 25 July & 1 August (Seeded teams in bold)

Group 1

SP Tre Penne (SMR)/FC Santa Coloma (AND) v Sūduva (LTU)/Crvena zvezda (SRB)
BATE Borisov (BLR)/Piast Gliwice (POL) v Dundalk (IRL)/Riga FC (LVA)
Partizani (ALB)/Qarabag (AZE) v Sheriff Tiraspol (MDA)/Saburtalo (GEO)

Group 2

Ararat Armenia(ARM)/AIK (SWE) v Feronikeli (KOS)/Lincoln Red Imps (GIB)
Valur Reykjavik (ISL)/Maribor (SVN) v Ferencvaros (HUN)/Ludogorets (BUL)
Slovan Bratislava (SVK)/Sutjeska (MNE) v The New Saints (WAL)/Winners of the preliminary round

Group 3

Losing finalist, preliminary round v Astana (KAZ)/CFR Cluj (ROU)
HJK Helsinki (FIN)/HB Torshavn (FRO) v Linfield (NIR)/Rosenborg (NOR)
Nomme Kalju (EST)/Shkendija (MKD) v F91 Dudelange (LUX)/Valletta (MLT)

UCL, Europa League first round qualifying draws made

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You thought the 2018-19 season had only just finished? Yep, you were right.

But that doesn’t mean the 2019-20 campaign isn’t just about to begin.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

The UEFA Champions League first round qualifying draw was made on Tuesday, as clubs begin their quest to reach the UCL final in Istanbul, Turkey on May 30, 2020, while the Europa League first qualifying round draw was also made as the UEL final takes place in Gdansk, Poland on May 27, 2020.

Scottish champions Celtic will face FK Sarajevo from Bosnia in the UCL first qualifying round, while in the Europa League Glasgow Rangers will face FC Prishtina of Kosovo or St Joseph’s FC from Gibraltar. Fellow Scottish side Kilmarnock will face Connah’s Quay Nomads of Wales and Aberdeen will play RoPS Rovaniemi of Finland.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores  ] 

The winners of the preliminary round will compete in the UCL first qualifying round proper, as two semifinals and a final will take place on June 25 and 28 to determine which team from Feronikeli, Lincoln Red Imps, Tre Penne and FC Santa Coloma will advance.

Below is the first round qualifying draw for both competitions in full.


UEFA Champions League first qualifying round draw (tied to be played on 9/10 July and 16/17 July)

Group 1 (seeded sides in bold)

Nomme Kalju (EST) v Shkendija (MKD)
Suduva (LTU) v Crvena zvezda (SRB)
Ararat-Armenia (ARM) v AIK (SWE)
Astana (KAZ) v CFR Cluj (ROU)
Ludogorets (BUL) v Ferencvaros (HUN)

Group 2

Celtic (SCO) v Sarajevo (BIH)
Sheriff Tiraspol (MDA) v Saburtalo (GEO)
F91 Dudelange (LUX) v Valletta (MLT)
Partizani (ALB) v Qarabag (AZE)
Slovan Bratislava (SVK) v Sutjeska (MNE)

Group 3

Linfield (NIR) v Rosenborg (NOR)
Valur Reykjavik (ISL) v Maribor (SVN)
Dundalk (IRL) v Riga (LVA)
The New Saints (WAL) v Winners of the preliminary round
HJK Helsinki (FIN) v HB Torshavn (FRO)
BATE Borisov (BLR) v Piast Gliwice (POL)


UEFA Europa League first qualifying round draw (ties to be played July 11 and 18)

Group 1 (seeded sides in bold)

Malmo (SWE) v Ballymena (NIR)/NSI (FRO)
Connah’s Quay Nomads (WAL) v Kilmarnock (SCO)
Breidablik (ISL) v Vaduz (LIE)
Brann (NOR) v Shamrock Rovers (IRL)
Vitebsk (BLR) v KuPS Kuopio (FIN)

Group 2

Ordabasy Shymkent (KAZ) v Torpedo Kutaisi (GEO)
Sant Julia (AND)/Europa (GIB) v Legia (POL)
Gzira United (MLT) v Hajduk Split (CRO)
Radnicki Nis (SRB) v Flora (EST)
CSKA Sofia (BUL) v Titograd (MNE)

Group 3

Maccabi Haifa (ISR) v Mura (SVN)
Debrecen (HUN) v Kukesi (ALB)
Jeunesse Esch (LUX) v Tobol Kostanay (KAZ)
FCSB (ROU) v Milsami Orhei (MDA)
Cukaricki (SRB) v Banants (ARM)

Group 4

Crusaders (NIR) v B36 (FRO)
Inter Turku (FIN) v Brøndby (DEN)
Prishtina (KOS)/St Joseph’s (GIB) v Rangers (SCO)
Cork (IRL) 
v Progrss Niederkorn (LUX)/Cardiff Metropolitan University (WAL)
Molde (NOR) 
v KR (ISL)

Group 5

Levski Sofia (BUL) v Ruzomberok (SVK)
Akademija Pandev (MKD) v Zrinjski (BIH)
FK Zeta (MNE) v Fehervar (HUN)
Shakhtyor Soligorsk (BLR) 
v Hibernians (MLT)
Neftci (AZE) v Speranta Nisporeni (MDA)

Group 6

Olimpija Ljubljana (SVN) v Rigas FS (LVA)
Budapest Honved (HUN) v Zalgiris Vilnius (LTU)
Radnik Bijeljina (BIH) v Spartak Trnava (SVK)
Fola Esch (LUX) 
v Chikhura Sachkhere (GEO)
Alashkert (ARM) v Makedonija Skopje (MKD)

Group 7

Dinamo Tbilisi (GEO) v La Fiorita (SMR)/Engordany (AND)
Siroki Brijeg (BIH) v Kairat Almaty (KAZ)
Kauno Zalgiris (LTU) v Apollon Limassol (CYP)
Ventspils (LVA) 
v Teuta (ALB)
Cracovia Krakow (POL) v DAC 1904 Dunajska Streda (SVK)

Group 8

Stjarnan (ISL) v Levadia Tallinn (EST)
Barry Town (WAL)/Cliftonville (NIR) v Haugesund (NOR)
Riteriai (LTU) 
v KI (FRO)/Tre Fiori (SMR)
Dinamo Minsk (BLR) 
v Liepaja (LVA)
Norrkoping (SWE)
v Saint Patrick’s (IRL)
Aberdeen (SCO) v RoPS Rovaniemi (FIN)

Group 9

Domzale (SVN) v Balzan (MLT)
Laci (ALB) v Hapoel Beer-Sheva (ISR)
Buducnost Podgorica (MNE) v Narva Trans (EST)
Sabail (AZE) v U Craiova 1948 (ROU)
Pyunik (ARM) v Shkupi (MKD)
AEK Larnaca (CYP) v Petrocub-Hincesti (MDA)

Sarri to discuss Chelsea future

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Maurizio Sarri isn’t sure if he will be in charge at Chelsea next season.

The Italian coach has confirmed that he will sit down and meet with Chelsea’s hierarchy after the UEFA Europa League final with Arsenal next Wednesday.

He also bristled when asked if winning the Europa League was key to not being fired by Chelsea, as he said he would leave now if that was the case.

Speaking ahead of Chelsea’s trip to Baku, Azerbaijan, Sarri was asked about news reports linking him with a return to Italy to manage Juventus.

“It is very exciting to be here, but now it is time to think of the final,” Sarri said. “I have two years of my contract here. I have no contract with other clubs. I have to speak with my club after the final. I want to know if they are happy with me.”

Sarri added that he will discuss the situation in detail, but is extremely happy to remain at Stamford Bridge.

“I’m very happy to stay in the Premier League, with Chelsea, one of the most important clubs in the Premier League. I’m very, very happy but we have to discuss the situation. It’s normal. You have to discuss things with the club. It’s like this,” Sarri said.

Chelsea have hardly set the world alight this season, but finished third in the Premier League as they limped over the line at the end of the season. A top four finish was key for Sarri in his first season, so he achieved that, but the style of play was lambasted by many fans and neutrals, as the predictable, slow build-up play turned out to be easy to defend against. The reports around his future state that Chelsea are quite happy to let him leave this summer if another club wants to pay his $7 million release clause.

Sarri has reached the League Cup final and Europa League final in his debut season in England too, but his downbeat demeanor in press conferences has translated to a negative vibe with supporters.

Many want Frank Lampard — who has excelled in his first season as a manager at second-tier Derby — to replace Sarri this summer and given the impending transfer ban for Chelsea and Eden Hazard leaving, will he be able to improve the squad of players he currently has?

A big few weeks coming up for Sarri and Chelsea and their immediate futures.

Wolves qualify for Europa League

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Next season Wolverhampton Wanderers will play in Europe for the first time since 1981.

Courtesy of Manchester City’s victory against Watford in the FA Cup final, and their seventh place finish in the Premier League this season, Wolves will now compete in the UEFA Europa League from the second-qualifying round in 2019-20.

Wolves have enjoyed a fantastic season back in the top-flight, as Nuno Espirito Santo led his newly-promoted side to some huge victories against teams from the top six with Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota leading the way up front.

The likes of Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho, Conor Coady, Matt Doherty and Rui Patricio also dazzled, as Wolves will aim to try and push into the top six next season.

Wolves are going on a European tour, with the first leg of the second qualifying round to be played on July 25 and the second leg on August 1.

Arsenal, Mkhitaryan in talks over missing Europa League final

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Henrikh Mkhitaryan may not play for Arsenal in their UEFA Europa League final against Chelsea.

Not because of injury. Not because he’s suspended. But because of safety fears due to his citizenship.

The final on May 29 is being held in Baku, Azerbaijan and they have no diplomatic relations with the country of Mkhitaryan’s birth, Armenia.

Due their conflict over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, tensions are high between Azerbaijan and Armenia and Mkhitaryan did not travel for Arsenal’s Europa League game against Qarabag in Azerbaijan earlier this season.

According to multiple reports Arsenal are in touch with UEFA about the situation, as European soccer’s governing body have offered to help secure a visa for Mkhitaryan to travel in and out for the game.

What a mess.

Mkhitaryan is the captain of the Armenian national team and will no doubt be a target if he enters Azerbaijan. Surely Arsenal will not risk taking him with them, even though he would be a valuable asset to Unai Emery‘s team on the pitch. Mkhitaryan, 30, has played in 39 games for Arsenal this season and has scored six times, adding seven assists. Not having him available for this game would be a blow for the Gunners.

After Arsenal sent out a strong statement questioning why Baku was selected as a host city due to their own fans and Chelsea supporters struggling to get to the Azerbaijani capital for the final — both clubs were handed only 6,000 tickets in a 69,000 capacity venue — they will be feeling even more hard done by with Mkhitaryan’s status up in the air.

“We have 45,000 season ticket holders and for so many fans to miss out due to UEFA selecting a final venue with such limited transport provision is quite simply not right,” Arsenal said in a statement. They have also expressed their displeasure at their British-Armenian season ticket holders being denied entry to Azerbaijan for the final.

It is totally understandable that UEFA want to spread the love and take their showpiece finals all over the region and to cities and countries who haven’t previously hosted the events, but serious questions have to be asked about other cities after such extreme issues for both of the finalists this season.