Part three of our Champions League team guide means we’ve now reached the penultimate feature on potential opponents, writes Sam Wood.
While we’ve been bringing you these guides, preparations have been well underway behind the scenes, as the players prepare for the first Champions League match on the 10th of July.
On Thursday, we announced that Danny Redmond was the first new addition to the squad, as Scott Ruscoe sets his sights on more success, not just domestically, but on the continent too.
With just 24 days to go until the draw is made, here are the next four teams and countries you could be booking flights to in July:
Stadium (capacity): Alashkert Stadium (6,850)
Best European result: 2-2 (advanced on away goals) vs St Johnstone [2015-2016 Europa League 1st qualifying round]
Alashkert have played in the last two seasons of the Champions League, advancing from the first qualifying round on both occasions. They’re yet to win a match in the second yet though, losing out to Dinamo Tbilisi in 2016-2017 and BATE Borisov in 2017-2018.
You could argue that their best European result came in the Europa League though. In the 2015-2016 season, and in their European debut, they beat Scottish side St Johnstone on away goals, following a 2-2 draw in the first qualifying round.
Country: Faroe Islands
Stadium: Sarpugerði Stadium (430)
Best European result: 2-1 vs Tromsø IL [2014-2015 Europa League 2nd qualifying round]
Víkingur Gøta have advanced from the 1st qualifying round of the Champions League on one occasion, last year in 2017-2018. They beat Trepça’89 6-2 on aggregate and also became the first team to play an away match in Kosovo in the competition.
Although last year was their Champions League debut, the Faroese club have played in the Europa League on six occasions. Their best run came in the 2014-2015 season, defeating Tromsø 2-1 on aggregate in the 2nd qualifying round, before eventually losing 9-1 to Rijeka in the third.
Stadium: National Stadium, Ta’ Qali (16,977)
Best European result: 9-0 vs Lusitanos [2012-2013 Champions League 1st qualifying round]
In their early days of European participation, Valletta were on the receiving end of some very heavy defeats. The 1983-1984 Cup Winners’ Cup saw the Maltese side lose 18-0 on aggregate to Glasgow Rangers, with a 10-0 defeat coming against the same opposition in 1990-1991. They also were on the wrong end of 11-0 and 13-3 defeats against Budapest Honvéd of Hungary and Grasshopper from Switzerland.
Their first advancement finally came in the 1999-2000 Champions League 1st qualifying round, as they defeated Barry Town 3-2 on aggregate and recent history has been much more favourable to them. They reached the second qualifying round of last season’s Europa League, but did lose 4-2 to Newtown in the same competition in 2015.
FC Spartak Trnava
Stadium: Štadión Antona Malatinského (19,200)
Best European result: 2-0 vs Ajax [1968-1969 European Cup semi-final 1st leg]
Spartak Trnava are arguably the best team in the unseeded side of the draw. They got to the semi-final stage of the 1968-1969 European Cup, before eventually losing out to the Ajax team of Johan Cruyff.
Once again they went far in the competition in 1972-1973 and 1973-1974, reaching the quarter-final on both occasions. But this year will be their first appearance in what is now the Champions League since that 1974 season.
Having taken part in the Europa League/UEFA Cup in eight of the last 12 seasons, they’re yet to reach the group stage, but have made the play-off round on a couple of occasions, so they remain a very dangerous outfit.
Next week’s guide will be the last of the four and you can read the previous articles here: part one and part two. In the meantime, be sure to keep an eye on our website for more news on new signings.