With just over two weeks to go until this season’s Champions League 1st Qualifying Round draw, writes Sam Wood, we’ve reached the end of our four-part preview, taking a detailed look at some of the teams The New Saints can come up against.
With the players back in training on Monday (June 4), ahead of the first pre-season friendly against CefnDruids on the 20th of June, they’ll be just as eager as anyone to find out their potential opponents.
For the last time this year, let’s take a look at the final few teams that TNS can play:
Stadium (capacity): Stožice Stadium (16,038)
Best European result: 6-0 vs Jeunesse Esch [2012-2013 Europa League 1 st Qualifying round]
Olimpija Ljubljana have been involved in the Champions League on just one previous occasion. In 2016-2017 they were eliminated on away goals following a 6-6 aggregate draw against Trenčín of Slovakia.
Other than that, all of their European excursions have come in the Europa League. In the latter competition, they’ve advanced on three occasions, reaching as far as the 3 rd qualifying round in 2011-2012. Their biggest win came against Jeunesse Esch in 2012-2013, who they defeated 6-0 on aggregate in the first qualifying round.
Stadium: Stade Jos Nosbaum (2,558)
Best European result: 4-4 (advanced on away goals) vs Red Bull Salzburg [2012-2013 Champions League 2nd Qualifying Round]
One of the Champions League’s biggest qualifying upsets involved F91 Dudelange. In 2012-2013, the side from Luxembourg knocked out last season’s Europa League semi-finalists Red Bull Salzburg on away goals following a 4-4 draw.
They haven’t advanced in a European tie since then though. They’ve lost their last seven matches across both competitions, so head into this season’s competition with a point to prove.
Country: FYR Macedonia
Stadium: Ecolog Arena (15,000)
Best European result: 2-1 vs Mladá Boleslav [2016-2017 Europa League 3 rd Qualifying round]
KF Shkëndija have reached the play-off round of the Europa League in each of the last two seasons, winning three qualifying rounds along the way in both. They were eventually eliminated last year by Italian giants, and quarter-finalists, AC Milan, 7-0 on aggregate.
Their only appearance in the Champions League was in 2011-2012, when they lost 5-0 in the 2nd qualifying round to Partizan Belgrade of Serbia.
That brings to an end the preview of the 15 sides who automatically qualify for the second qualifying round. The final spot belongs to the winners of the newly formed preliminary round, involving the teams from the four worse ranked associations – Kosovo, San Marino, Gibraltar and Andorra.
In the preliminary round, teams are drawn into two one-legged semi-finals and final ties, meaning only one of the clubs can reach the second round. While The Saints can only come up against one of these sides, we’ll still preview them, albeit in fewer detail.
Lincoln Red Imps
Stadium: Victoria Stadium (2,000)
Best European result: 1-0 (1 st leg) vs Celtic [2016-2017 Champions League 2 nd Qualifying round]
FC Santa Coloma
Location: Santa Coloma
Stadium: Andorra Football Federation stadiums (various)
Best European result: 3-3 (lost on away goals) vs Banants [2014-2015 Europa League 1 st Qualifying
S.P. La Fiorita
Country: San Marino
Stadium: Stadio Igor Crescentini (500)
Best European result: 0-1 (L) vs Linfield [2017-2018 Champions League 1 st Qualifying round]
Stadium: Gjilan City Stadium (15,000)
Best European result: N/A (debut)
So 2,560 words later, we covered all of the potential clubs and destinations that The New Saints can travel to, dependent on the 19th June’s draw.
Let us know on Twitter or Facebook which would be your ideal destination.