Europa League 2nd Qualifying Round Seeding

Aberdeen and St Johnstone will enter the Europa League at the 1st Qualifying Round (QR1), and will be seeded in the QR1 draw.

Inverness will enter at the 2nd Qualifying Round (QR2).  Due to the short time period between the rounds, both stages are drawn at the same time, and therefore Aberdeen and St Johnstone will also be in the QR2 draw.

UEFA make the QR2 draw with the assumption that all the seeded sides will win in QR1.  Aberdeen and Inverness will definitely be unseeded in this draw.  St Johnstone could still be seeded, and below I explain what results they need to end up as a seeded club in QR2.

60 of the 66 teams for the QR2 draw have been locked in.  There are 6 spaces still up for grabs.  The top 33 teams will be seeded.  Of the 60 who are already in place, St Johnstone are currently ranked 30th.

St Johnstone will be seeded if at least 3 of the remaining 6 clubs who qualify have a coefficient lower than 6.080.

The spots which are still to be decided are as follows:

Switzerland – 1 spot

Switzerland’s lowest ranked qualifier will enter QR2.  This spot will be decided by the outcome of the Swiss Cup final next Sunday between Basel and Sion.

  • If Basel win the cup, then St Johnstone’s old pals, 5th placed Luzern, will enter QR2.  Their coefficient is 9.875.
  • If Sion win the cup, then 4th placed FC Thun will enter QR2.  Their coefficient is 10.375.

In other words, whichever of these sides end up in QR2 will be ranked above St Johnstone and will be seeded.

Greece – 1 spot

Greece’s lowest ranked qualifier will enter QR2.  This spot will be decided by the outcome of their European play-off group – whoever finishes 4th (and bottom) in the group will enter this round.  With 2 matches remaining (on Thursday and Monday), three clubs could still qualify:

  • Asteras Tripoli are currently 2nd on 6 points.  Their coefficient is 13.380.
  • PAOK are currently 3rd on 5 points.  Their coefficient is 40.880.
  • Atromitos are currently 4th on 4 points.  Their coefficient is 10.380.

Again, this means that whichever Greek side ends up in QR2 will be seeded above St Johnstone.

Austria – 1 spot

Austria’s lowest ranked side will enter QR2.  This will be decided by the Austrian Cup final on Wednesday between Red Bull Salzburg and Austria Vienna.

  • If Red Bull Salzburg win the cup, then 5th placed Wolfsberger AC will enter QR2.  Their coefficient is 5.135.
  • If Austria Vienna win the cup, then 4th placed Sturm Graz will enter QR2.  Their coefficient is 9.135.

St Johnstone therefore obviously want Red Bull Salzburg to win the cup, because Saints would be ranked ahead of Wolfsberger AC.

Poland – 3 spots

This is by far the most complex country remaining.  Poland’s top ranked side will enter QR2, while their 2nd and 3rd ranked sides will enter QR1, but will be seeded in QR1 and will therefore also take up a place in the QR2 draw.  That means that Poland still have 3 places in total which affect St Johnstone’s seeding.  These will go to the clubs finishing 2nd, 3rd and 4th in the Polish league.

There are 2 matches remaining in the league, which will be played on Wednesday and Saturday.  7 clubs can still qualify for the Europa League:

  • Lech Poznan are currently top of the league with 39 points.  Their coefficient is 17.300.
  • Legia Warsaw are currently 2nd with 38 points.  Their coefficient is 24.800.
  • Jagiellonia Bialystok are currently 3rd with 35 points.  Their coefficient is 5.550.
  • Slask Wroclaw are currently 4th with 29 points.  Their coefficient is 8.800.
  • Lechia Gdansk are currently 5th with 28 points.  Their coefficient is 4.300.
  • Wisla Krakow are currently 6th with 27 points.  Their coefficient is 13.300.
  • Gornik Zabrze are currently 7th with 26 points.  Their coefficient is 4.300.

Lech Poznan, Legia Warsaw and Jagiellonia Bialystok are all guaranteed a spot in Europe for next season.  One of them will win the league and qualify for the Champions League, while the other two will end up in the Europa League.  Therefore at least one of Lech Poznan or Legia Warsaw will be in the Europa League QR2 draw and will be ranked above St Johnstone.

St Johnstone are hoping that Jagiellonia don’t win the league, and that either Lechia Gdansk or Gornik Zabrze finish 4th.

Summary

Three sides are guaranteed to be ranked above St Johnstone – one from Switzerland, one from Greece and one from Poland.  For St Johnstone to be seeded in QR2, they need each of the other three spots to be taken by sides ranked below them.

That means they need the following outcomes:

  • Red Bull Salzburg beat Austria Vienna in the Austrian Cup final.
  • Jagiellonia Bialystok don’t win the Polish league (and therefore finish 2nd or 3rd).
  • Lechia Gdansk or Gornik Zabrze finish 4th in Poland.

European Spots (2013/14)

 

As the season approaches its climax, it’s time to have a look at the qualification situation for next season’s European competitions.  Like last season, Scotland will have four spots in Europe.  However, due to the extremely high scoring 2007/08 season having dropped off the coefficient list, some of these teams will enter earlier than they did last season.  The main damage to the coefficient was done by the very poor score in 2008/09, which thankfully will drop off after this season is complete.

Champions League

Premiership champions Celtic will be the only Scottish side to enter next season’s Champions League, and will enter in the 2nd Qualifying Round – the same stage as this season.  That means they will have to progress through three qualifying rounds in order to make the group stage.  However, just like this season, they will only face champions of smaller countries, avoiding the 3rd and 4th placed sides from bigger nations.  As I discussed here, that should give them an easier route to the group stage.  Their good performances over the last two Champions League campaigns mean that it is almost certain that they will be seeded in each of their three qualifying rounds.

Europa League

There are 3 Europa League places available for Scottish clubs.  These spots will be allocated to the Scottish Cup winners and the sides finishing 2nd and 3rd in the Premiership.  If the Scottish Cup winners also qualify for the Europa League via their league position, then the additional place will go to the 4th placed side in the Premiership.

There is always confusion about whether the runners-up in the Scottish Cup would qualify for Europe if the Scottish Cup winners qualify via their league place.  UEFA’s rules state that if the cup winners qualify for the Champions League, then the runners-up take the Europa League spot, but if the cup winners qualify for the Europa League then the extra spot goes to the league.  So last season, Hibs qualified for Europe after finishing as Scottish Cup runners-up, because Celtic qualified for the Champions League.  But the previous season, Hibs did not qualify for Europe as Scottish Cup runners-up, because Hearts only qualified for the Europa League via their league position.

This season, Celtic will take the Champions League spot, and they are already eliminated from the Scottish Cup.  Therefore there will be no spot available for the Scottish Cup runners-up.  If the Scottish Cup winners have already qualified for Europe via their league position, then the extra spot will go to the side who finish in 4th.

To sum all that up:

  • Scottish Cup winners will qualify.
  • 2nd and 3rd in the Premiership will definitely qualify.
  • 4th in the Premiership will only qualify if the Scottish Cup winners also qualify for Europe via the league.

The Scottish Cup winners and the 2nd placed side in the Premiership will enter at the 2nd Qualifying Round, while the 3rd placed side in the Premiership will have to enter in the 1st Qualifying Round (which kicks off on 3rd July, 10 days before the World Cup is finished!).  If the Scottish Cup winners also finish 2nd, then the 3rd placed side would enter in QR2 and the 4th placed side would enter in QR1.

Motherwell FC in Europe 2013/14

The draw for the Europa League 3rd Qualifying Round will take place on Friday at noon, with Motherwell entering as an unseeded side.  Stuart McCall’s side will have to progress through two rounds if they want to make it to the group stage for the first time.  The 3rd Qualifying Round matches will take place on 1st and 8th August.

Motherwell are playing in Europe for the 8th season in their history.  They made their debut in 1991/92, and have become regular qualifiers in recent years, with this season’s campaign being their 5th in the last 6 seasons.  In total, they have played 13 ties against opposition from 13 different countries covering almost the entire geographical spain of Europe.

Motherwell

The countries and cities Motherwell have travelled to for European ties.

History

Their first taste of Europe was in the Cup Winners’ Cup after that famous 1991 Scottish Cup win, and their campaign started inauspiciously with a 2-0 defeat to GKS Katowice in Poland.  That made it a tough ask for the 2nd leg at Fir Park, but Stevie Kirk scored their first ever European goal to give them a 1-0 half-time lead.  Unfortunately, Katowice scored just after the hour mark, and despite two goals in the last 5 minutes the Steelmen lost out on away goals.

They had to wait 3 years for another chance, this time in the UEFA Cup.  HB Torshavn were thrashed home and away in the Preliminary Round, setting up a glamour tie against Borussia Dortmund.  The first leg in Germany finished just 1-0 to the Germans, but any hopes of a shock result were extinguished by a 2nd half Karl-Heinz Riedle double at Fir Park.  The Motherwell midfield for those games featured Paul Lambert, who impressed enough to win a move to Dortmund, where he would go on to win the Champions League.

The following season saw Motherwell qualify again – as Premier Division runners-up – but the Preliminary Round tie would see the club’s most embarrassing European defeat.  They were drawn against Finnish side MyPA, and despite taking the lead through Shaun McSkimming after 9 minutes at Fir Park, things swiftly unravelled, and they lost 3-1 in front of a shellshocked home crowd.  In the 2nd leg in Finland, they restored a bit of pride with a 2-0 win, but it wasn’t enough to prevent a defeat on away goals.

After a long 13 year wait, they returned to European competition in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup – the final season before it was rebranded.  They had a tough draw against Nancy, but a 1-0 defeat away defeat gave them a fighting chance at Fir Park.  Their hopes were short-lived though, as future Celtic striker Marc-Antoine Fortune scored an early goal in a 2-0 win for the French side.

They redeemed themselves the following season in the first ever Europa League, but only after suffering early ignominy.  Their qualification came via Fair Play, so they had to enter at the 1st Qualifying Round, which started on the 2nd July.  Due to pitch improvements at Fir Park, their opening match at home to Llanelli was played at the Excelsior Stadium, Airdrie, but even the early start and unfamiliar surroundings couldn’t excuse an embarrassing 1-0 defeat.  They rescued the tie with a 3-0 win in the 2nd leg in Wales.

The 2nd Qualifying Round saw a 1-0 defeat in Albania against Flamurtari Vlore, but they turned things round emphatically in Airdrie with an 8-1 win.  Jamie Murphy scored their only European hat-trick (to date), as they rushed into a 6-0 half-time lead.  The next round was a step too far, as Steaua Bucharest crushed them 3-0 in Romania and 3-1 at the Excelsior.

A 3rd consecutive qualification was secured for the 2010/11 season, and the European experience from previous seasons paid off.  After a 1-0 win over Breidablik at Fir Park, they secured a nervy 1-0 win in Iceland through a Jamie Murphy goal.  The following round saw them comfortably defeat an Aalesunds side which had Anders Lindegaard in goals.  Murphy scored his 6th European goal in a 1-1 draw in Norway, making him the club’s all-time top European scorer, and he took his tally to 7 with another goal in a 3-0 2nd leg win at Fir Park.

Despite being unseeded for the play-off round, they were handed a winnable tie against Odense which gave them a chance of making the lucrative group stage.  After going 2-0 down in Denmark, Tom Hateley scored a stoppage time free-kick to secure a crucial away goal ahead of the match at Fir Park.  A crowd in excess of 9000 turned out, but Odense scored a crucial goal midway through the first half.  Despite dominating the 2nd half, and seeing their opponents reduced to 9 men, Motherwell couldn’t find any way through, even squandering a penalty as Jamie Murphy hit the post.

In 2012/13, ‘Well made it into the Champions League after Rangers’ administration and eventual liquidation meant they couldn’t get a UEFA license.  The 3rd Qualifying Round saw them drawn Greek side Panathinaikos, whose substantial Champions League experience paid off as they won 2-0 in a fairly even match at Fir Park.  In the second leg in Athens, Motherwell held out until half-time, but eventually lost 3-0 to suffer a harsh 5-0 aggregate defeat.  Their adventure didn’t end there though, as they dropped down into the Play-off Round of the Europa League, where they met Spanish side Levante.  Another 2-0 defeat at Fir Park, followed by a 1-0 loss in Spain meant that that they ended their campaign with four defeats and no goals scored.

2013/14 Europa League

Motherwell will have to progress through two rounds to make it to the group stage of the Europa League.  Stuart McCall’s side will be unseeded for Friday’s draw, which makes things a great deal tougher for them.

Due to the short turnaround between the 2nd and 3rd Qualifying Rounds, the draw for the 3rd Qualifying Round will take place in between the two legs of the 2nd Qualifying Round ties.  So, for the purposes of the 3rd Qualifying Round draw, UEFA assume that the seeded side will win each of the 2nd Qualifying Round ties.  If any unseeded side wins their 2nd Qualifying Round tie, they would therefore assume the seeding of the side they beat.

All the information on seeding comes from Bert Kassies’ website, which is a must-read for anyone who is interested in how the competitions work.

3rd Qualifying Round

Matches: 1st & 8th August

18 clubs, including Motherwell, will enter the competition of this stage, where they will join the 40 winners from the 2nd Qualifying Round.

As mentioned earlier, the winners from the 2nd Qualifying Round will be unknown at the time of the draw, and UEFA will assume that the seeded sides win each of those ties.

The list below shows the seedings for the 3rd Qualifying Round.  Country protection means that Motherwell cannot draw the winners of the Rosenborg v St Johnstone tie, but they could face any of the other seeded teams.

QR3

St Johnstone FC in Europe 2013/14

St Johnstone will enter the 2nd Qualifying Round of this season’s Europa League after their 3rd place finish in last season’s SPL.  They will find out their opponents on Monday 24th June, when the draws for the first two qualifying rounds are drawn by UEFA, and their matches will take place on Thursday 18th and Thursday 25th July.

This will be the second consecutive season in Europe for the Perth side, and their fourth appearance overall.  All three previous appearances have come in the UEFA Cup/Europa League.  The Saints will be hoping to continue their proud record of being unbeaten at home in Europe, having played 6 matches.  The only other Scottish clubs with an unbeaten home record in Europe are Livingston (2 matches) and Falkirk (1 match).

St Johnstone

The countries and cities St Johnstone have visited on European trips.

Their first sojourn into Europe was in the 1971/72 season, where they met Hamburg in the 1st Round.   In the 1st leg they suffered a 2-1 defeat in West Germany, with Jim Pearson scoring their first ever European goal.  In the return leg at Muirton Park, nearly 15,000 fans witnessed a sensational 3-0 victory which took the Perth side through.  In Round 2, they defeat Vasas of Hungary 2-0 at home, and held on for a 1-0 defeat in Budapest to squeeze through on aggregate.  Round 3 saw them face Zeljeznicar Sarajevo, where after a 1-0 home win they were brought abruptly to earth with a 5-1 defeat in what was then Yugoslavia.

The Saints had to wait 28 years for a return to Europe, reaching the 1999/2000 UEFA Cup where they faced VPS Vaasa in the Qualifying Round.  They drew 1-1 in Finland, with Nathan Lowndes scoring a 2nd half equaliser, which put them in the driving seat for the 2nd leg, but they endured a nervy encounter at McDiarmid Park, with the tie not being sealed until Miguel Simao scored a very late double for a 2-0 win.  The 1st Round proper saw a glamour tie against an AS Monaco side which contained Fabien Barthez, Rafael Marquez, Willy Sagnol, Dado Prso, John Arne Riise, Ludovic Giuly and David Trezeguet.  While the supporters enjoyed their trip to Monte Carlo, their side suffered a 3-0 defeat in the 1st leg which put the tie beyond them.  The 2nd leg in Perth saw Saints preserving their unbeaten home record with an entertaining 3-3 draw.

Last season, Saints were drawn against Turkish side Eskisehirspor in the 2nd Qualifying Round (the same stage at which they enter this season).  A 2-0 defeat in Turkey left Steve Lomas and his side facing an uphill struggle, but a Gregory Tade header in the first half at McDiarmid Park gave Saints some hope going into half-time.  Unfortunately, Eskisehirspor scored just after half-time to put the tie beyond St Johnstone and deny them a glamour tie against Marseille.  The St Johnstone fans were given a warm welcome in Turkey, and reciprocated when Eskisehirspor fans visited Perth, and the bond between the clubs even extended to St Johnstone designing this season’s away strip in homage to the Turkish outfit.

2013/14 Europa League

Saints will enter the Europa League in the 2nd Qualifying Round, and would have to progress through three rounds to make it to the group stage.  Tommy Wright’s side will be unseeded in the draw on Monday, making their task a great deal tougher.  Due to the short turnaround between the ties, the draws for both the 1st and 2nd Qualifying Rounds of the Europa League will be made on the same day, so for the purposes of the 2nd Qualifying Round draw, UEFA assume that the seeded team will win each of the 1st Qualifying Round ties.  If any unseeded side wins in the 1st Qualifying Round, they would therefore assume the seeding of the side they beat.

All the information on seeding comes from Bert Kassies’ website, which is a must-read for anyone who is interested in how the competitions work.

1st Qualifying Round

Matches: 4th July & 11th July

Although Saints will not participate in this round, the draw format mentioned above means that they could end up being drawn against the (unknown) winners of one of these ties.

The list below shows the seedings for the 1st Qualifying Round.

EL1

2nd Qualifying Round

Matches: 18th July & 25th July

42 clubs, including St Johnstone and Hibs, will enter at this stage, and will be joined by 38 winners from the previous round.

As mentioned above, the 38 winners from the 1st Qualifying Round will be unkown at the time of the draw.  For the purposes of the 2nd Qualifying Round draw, UEFA assume that the seeded sides from the previous round will progress.

The list below shows the seedings for the 2nd Qualifying Round.  The teams listed in blue and italics are the seeded teams from the 1st Qualifying Round.  If these teams lose in the 1st Qualifying Round, they would be replaced by the team who beat them.

EL2

Hibernian FC in Europe 2013/14

Hibernian will enter the 2nd Qualifying Round of this season’s Europa League after finishing as runners up to CL-qualified Celtic in the Scottish Cup final.  They will find out their opponents on Monday 24th June, when the draws for the first two qualifying rounds are drawn by UEFA, and their matches will take place on Thursday 18th and Thursday 25th July.

This will be Hibs’ 23rd season taking part in European competition, which is one more than Edinburgh rivals Hearts.  It should, however, be noted that 7 of these appearances came in the Fairs Cup, which is not officially recognised by UEFA, and a further 3 appearances came in the Intertoto Cup.  Nonetheless, Hibernian have a proud history in European competition which they will be hoping to add to this year.  In total, they have played against sides from 21 different countries (or 22 if you include East Germany), as identified in the map below.  The nations coloured in light green have not been visited by Hibs, but were part of Yugoslavia when Hibs played there, while Switzerland is coloured in red because Hibs were drawn against Lausanne Sport in the 1960/61 Fairs Cup, but did not actually play against them after the Swiss side withdrew.

The countries Hibs have visited in European competition.

The countries Hibs have visited in European competition.

History

Hibs have played 86 matches in Europe, winning 38, drawing 17 and losing 31.  Their record at Easter Road is very impressive – they have won 64% of their European matches in Edinburgh (27 out of 42), and have only suffered 6 defeats.  Pat Stanton, Alan Gordon and Joe McBride are the club’s joint record European goalscorers – all three players managed 8 European goals.  Stanton also holds the record for the most European appearances for the club, playing 36 times in continental competition.  I intend to give a summary of Hibs’ history in European competition, but for those of you who want to find out more a complete list of their European results and line-ups can be found on the FitbaStats site (just select Europe from the drop down menu at the top).

It is fairly well known that Hibernian FC were the first Scottish side to participate in European competition when they took part in the inaugural European Cup in 1955/56, but what is less well known is that they didn’t actually qualify for the tournament on merit.  The initial tournament was not organised by UEFA, but rather by French newspaper L’Equipe, who invited teams based on their fanbase and prestige.  Indeed, only 7 of the 16 participants were champions of their own country.  Hibs had been champions of Scotland three times in the previous seven seasons, and despite finishing 5th in 1954/55 they were invited ahead of champions Aberdeen.

Hibs were given a tough looking tie against German champions Rot-Weiss Essen (who now languish in the fourth tier), and had to travel away from home for the first leg.  But in front of a crowd of just 5000 in Essen, Hibs dished out a 4-0 thumping, with two goals from Eddie Turnbull and one apiece from Lawrie Reilly and Willie Ormond.  It remains the only time a Scottish side have won a European Cup match in Germany.  The second leg at Easter Road finished 1-1 as Hibs cruised through to the quarter-finals.  Hibs came up against Swedish champions Djurgardens, and were again away from home first, but as it turned out they didn’t have far to travel – a frozen pitch in Sweden meant that the game was switched to Firhill.  Hibs conceded a very early goal (probably due to jetlag), but turned things around to record a 3-1 victory.  A few days later, they sealed their passage into the semi-finals with a 1-0 home win.

The semi-final saw Hibs face Stade de Reims, with the first leg away from home.  For the second round in a row, the match wasn’t actually played at their opponents’ home ground – instead it was played at Parc des Princes in Paris.  Hibs held out until the 67th minute, when the French side took the lead through Michel Leblond.  A 1-0 defeat wouldn’t have been too bad, but unfortunately Rene Bliard doubled Reims’ advantage with just a minute remaining to leave Hibs facing a massive uphill task in the second leg.  45,000 fans packed into Easter Road in the hope of seeing their side make the final, but Reims proved too strong, scoring midway through the second half to seal a 3-0 aggregate victory.  Reims would go on to lose 4-3 to Real Madrid in the final.  Hibs have yet to return to the European Cup.

Hibs’ next three European appearances also came via invitation, as they were asked to take part in the Fairs Cup which was at that time restricted to clubs which had hosted trade fairs.   In 1960/61, Hibs became the first Scottish side to take part in the tournament, and were drawn against Swiss side Lausanne Sport in Round 1.  Lausanne withdrew from the tournament, meaning Hibs reached the quarter-finals without playing a match.  They were given the daunting task of taking on Spanish champions Barcelona, who were simultaneously participating in that season’s European Cup, and would go on to lose to Benfica in the final of that tournament.

Hibs travelled to the Nou Camp two days after Christmas and it will come as no surprise that they conceded 4 goals, including a hat-trick for Hungarian star Sandor Kocsis.  Fortunately for Hibs, they also scored 4 times and took a 4-4 draw back to Edinburgh.  Hibs took an early lead in the second leg at Easter Road, but a goal from Eulogio Martinez and another from Kocsis saw them trail 2-1 at half-time, and it stayed that way until the 74th minute, when Tommy Preston equalised to level things up on the night and on aggregate, which would have taken the tie to a play-ff (there was no away goals rule back then).  But there was to be another twist with 5 minutes to go, when Hibs were awarded a penalty and Bobby Kinloch converted it to secure a famous victory and take Hibs into a second European semi-final where they would face Italian giants Roma.  The first leg at Easter Road finished 2-2, to leave a tough task over in Italy, but Hibs turned in another superb away performance to secure a 3-3 draw and take the tie to a play-off. The play-off venue was decided on the toss of a coin, which Hibs lost, so they returned to Roma’s Stadio Olimpico for a match which took place almost a month after the end of Hibs’ league season.  A lack of competitive match practice took its toll as Hibs were smashed 6-0 by the Italians, who went on to win the tournament.

The following season, Hibs were again invited into the Fairs Cup, but were knocked out by Red Star Belgrade in Round 2 after beating Portuguese side Belenenses. A year later, Hibs swatted aside representative sides from the cities of Copenhagen and Utrecht in the opening two rounds but eventual champions Valencia proved to be far too strong in the quarter-final – Hibs lost 5-0 in Spain before restoring some pride with a 2-1 home win in the second leg.  Hibs missed out on the tournament in the following two seasons as the places began to be dished out based on league finishes, but they returned in 1965/66 after a 4th placed finish in the previous season.  The first round draw gave them an immediate chance of revenge against Valencia, and a 2-0 win at Easter Road in the first leg put them in a strong position as they travelled to Spain.  However Valencia levelled things up with a 2-0 win in the Mestalla to set up a play-off, and with the coin toss unkind to them again, Hibs returned to Spain three weeks later and lost 3-0.

Hibs qualified for the Fairs Cup again in 1967/68 and after eliminating Porto 4-3 on aggregate in the first round, they were drawn against Napoli in Round 2.  A 4-1 defeat in Naples in the first leg seemed to put the tie beyond the Hibees, but instead Easter Road witnessed perhaps its greatest European night as Hibs put five goals past Italy legend Dino Zoff to win 5-0 and progress to a quarter-final tie against Leeds.  Scottish winger Eddie Gray scored the only goal at Elland Road as Leeds won 1-0 to leave the tie on a knife-edge ahead of the second leg in Edinburgh.  Colin Stein scored an early goal for Hibs, and the tie looked set for extra-time until Jack Charlton broke Hibs’ hearts with a goal three minutes from time.

Hibs would return to the competition a year later, beating Yugoslavian (now Slovenian) side Olimpia Ljubljana and East Germans Lokomotive Leipzig before being eliminated by Hamburg via the away goals rule (the first of three eliminations via this rule so far).  Hibs were again involved in the final season of the Fairs Cup in 1970/71, knocking out Malmo and Vitoria Guimaraes to set up a tie against Liverpool in the 3rd Round.  The English side would prove too strong for Hibs, winning 1-0 at Easter Road and 2-0 at Anfield.

The 1972/73 season saw Hibs make their only appearance in the Cup Winners’ Cup.  Hibs, of course, haven’t won the Scottish Cup since 1902, but qualified for the tournament in exactly the same way that they qualified for this year’s Europa League – they lost the Scottish Cup final to champions Celtic, who qualified for the European Cup.  Hibs went goal crazy at Easter Road in the tournament, recording a 6-1 win over Sporting Lisbon (7-3 agg) and a 7-1 win over Albanian side Besa Kavaje (8-2 agg) to reach the quarter-final, where they beat Hajduk Split 4-2 in the first leg at home.  Hibs looked to be a in strong position to reach the semis, but were beaten 3-0 in Yugoslavia (now Croatia) to suffer a 5-4 aggregate defeat.  That would be the last of five European quarter-final appearances, and indeed the last time they progressed through more than one round of a European competition.

That Cup Winners Cup appearance was the first of five straight seasons in Europe for Hibs – their longest run of consecutive appearances.  They played in the UEFA Cup every season between 1973/74 and 1976/77, but failed to progress beyond the second round in any of them.  In 1973/74, Icelandic side Keflavik were swept aside, but Hibs were knocked out by old foes Leeds United on penalties at Easter Road after two 0-0 draws.  The following season, Norwegian side Rosenborg were spanked 12-3 on aggregate (including a 9-1 win at Easter Road), but in the next round Hibs were on the receiving end of a thumping, losing 8-2 on aggregate to Italian giants Juventus.

The 1st Round draw was unkind in 1975/76 – Hibs were drawn against Liverpool,  and despite a 1-0 win at Easter Road in the first leg, they were knocked out after losing 3-1 at Anfield.  Liverpool went on to win the tournament.  A year later, French side Sochaux were narrowly beaten, but Hibs suffered a surprise defeat to Swedish side Osters in the next round, losing 4-3 on aggregate despite having won the first leg 2-0 at home.  Hibs would return to Europe a couple of years later, playing in the 1978/79 UEFA Cup.  They avenged their Swedish demons by beating IFK Norkopping in the 1st Round, but Strasbourg knocked them out in Round 2.

Hibs’ fortunes declined domestically, and it would be over a decade (including a season in the first division) before they returned to Europe, qualifying for the 1989/90 UEFA Cup after finishing 5th in the Premier Division.  Hungarians Videoton were beaten home and away in the 1st Round to set up a 2nd Round tie with Belgian side RFC Liege.  After 0-0 draw at Easter Road, the match in Belgium was also goalless after 90 minutes, taking the tie to extra time, where this wonderstrike from Jean-Francois De Sart knocked them out.  Hibs would again face Belgium opposition in their next European appearance – they faced Anderlecht in the 1992/93 UEFA Cup after qualifying as League Cup winners.  A 2-2 draw at Easter Road (featuring a goal from Peter van Vossen) left Hibs facing an uphill task in Brussels, and despite Darren Jackson’s equaliser they drew 1-1 to go out on the away goals rule (jump to the start of the video for a Sportscene preview of the 2nd leg).

They would not return to Europe until the 2001/02 UEFA Cup, where Alex McLeish’s side were given a tough tie against AEK Athens.  Hibs looked to be out after losing 2-0 in Greece, but two Paco Luna goals in the second half pulled Hibs back level.  Unfortunately for Luna, his two goals were overshadowed by this miss in stoppage time which would have won them the tie.  Instead, AEK scored twice in extra time to kill off the tie before David Zitelli scored a goal which was mere consolation in terms of the tie, but did at least win Hibs the match on the night.

Three years later, Hibs appeared in yet another different competition, the Intertoto Cup.  The tournament was not particularly popular amongst Scottish clubs, mainly because it was held during the summer and meant a very early start to pre-season, but it provided a route into the UEFA Cup.  Scottish clubs only took part in the tournament 5 times, and 3 of those appearances came from Hibs.  The 2004/05 campaign would provide Tony Mowbray with his first matches in charge of Hibs.  After a 1st round bye, Hibs came up against Lithuanian side FK Vetra in Round 2.  Garry O’Connor salvaged a 1-1 draw in the first leg at Easter Road, but Hibs were knocked out after an error from teenage goalkeeper Alistair Brown (who had made his debut in the first leg) handed Vetra the only goal in Vilnius.

Hibs qualified for the UEFA Cup the following year, but were thumped 5-1 by Ukranian side Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk in the 1st Round after a 0-0 draw at Easter Road.  In 2006/07, they returned to the Intertoto Cup, and dispatched Latvians Dinaburg 8-0 on aggregate in Round 2 to set up a tie against Danish side Odense, managed by former Scotland international Bruce Rioch.  Hibs lost 1-0 in Denmark, and fell a further goal behind just after half-time at Easter Road.  Goals from Rob Jones and Paul Dalglish levelled things up, but Hibs couldn’t find that third goal and lost out on away goals.

Hibs took part in the Intertoto Cup again in its final season, 2008/09, and only had to win one tie to make it to the UEFA Cup, but they were beaten home and away by Swedish side Elfsborg, going out 4-0 on aggregate.  Their most recent foray into European competition came in the 2010/11 Europa League, where they were drawn against Slovenian side NK Maribor.  Hibs were thumped 3-0 in Slovenia before suffering a 3-2 defeat at Easter Road despite an Edwin de Graaf double.  They will be hoping to avoid a similar humiliation this time around.

2013/14 Campaign

Hibs will enter the Europa League in the 2nd Qualifying Round, and would have to progress through three rounds to make it to the group stage.  Pat Fenlon’s side will be unseeded in the draw on Monday, making their task a great deal tougher.  Due to the short turnaround between the ties, the draws for both the 1st and 2nd Qualifying Rounds of the Europa League will be made on the same day, so for the purposes of the 2nd Qualifying Round draw, UEFA assume that the seeded team will win each of the 1st Qualifying Round ties.  If any unseeded side wins in the 1st Qualifying Round, they would therefore assume the seeding of the side they beat.

All the information on seeding comes from Bert Kassies’ website, which is a must-read for anyone who is interested in how the competitions work.

1st Qualifying Round

Matches: 4th July & 11th July

Although Hibs will not participate in this round, the draw format mentioned above means that Hibs could end up being drawn against the (unknown) winners of one of these ties.

The list below shows the seedings for the 1st Qualifying Round.

EL1

 

2nd Qualifying Round

Matches: 18th July & 25th July

42 clubs, including Hibs and St Johnstone, will enter at this stage, and will be joined by 38 winners from the previous round.

As mentioned above, the 38 winners from the 1st Qualifying Round will be unkown at the time of the draw.  For the purposes of the 2nd Qualifying Round draw, UEFA assume that the seeded sides from the previous round will progress.

The list below shows the seedings for the 2nd Qualifying Round.  The teams listed in blue and italics are the seeded teams from the 1st Qualifying Round.  If these teams lose in the 1st Qualifying Round, they would be replaced by the team who beat them.

EL2

 

How to Qualify For Europe – an Update

 

As the SPL approaches its climax, it’s time to have a look at what clubs need to do to qualify for Europe this season.  Due to poor performances in Europe between 2007/08 and 2011/12, Scotland will have four teams in Europe rather than the five teams which took part last season.  Some of these teams will enter earlier than they did in previous seasons too.

Champions League

The SPL champions will enter next season’s Champions League.  Celtic are almost certain to take up that spot, and will enter in the 2nd Qualifying Round – a round earlier than they did last year.  That means they will have to progress through three qualifying rounds in order to make the group stage.  However, just like this season, they will only face champions of smaller countries, avoiding the 3rd and 4th placed sides from bigger nations.  In theory, that should give them an easier route to the group stage.  Their impressive performances in this season’s Champions League mean that it is almost certain that they will be seeded in each of their three qualifying rounds.

Europa League

Scotland will have three Europa League spots next season – two for the SPL, plus one for the Scottish Cup.  Hibs will take up the Scottish Cup spot regardless of the outcome of the final, because opponents Celtic will take part in the Champions League next season.  Hibs will be joined in the Europa League by the sides finishing 2nd and 3rd in this season’s SPL.

One of the three sides will enter the Europa League at the 3rd Qualifying Round, meaning they would have to win two ties to reach the Group Stage.  The other two sides will enter at the 2nd Qualifying Round and will have to win three ties to get to the Group Stage.  Exactly which clubs enter at which stage depends on the outcome of the Scottish Cup final.

If Hibs win the Scottish Cup

  • Hibs will enter the 3rd Qualifying Round.
  • 2nd and 3rd in the SPL will enter the 2nd Qualifying Round.


If Celtic win the Scottish Cup

  • 2nd in the SPL will enter the the 3rd Qualifying Round
  • Hibs and 3rd in the SPL will enter the 2nd Qualifying Round.

How To Qualify For Europe

As the SPL approaches its climax, it’s time to have a look at what clubs need to do to qualify for Europe this season.  Due to poor performances in Europe between 2007/08 and 2011/12, Scotland will have four teams in Europe rather than the five teams which took part last season.  Some of these teams will enter earlier than they did in previous seasons too.

Champions League

The SPL champions will enter next season’s Champions League.  Celtic are almost certain to take up that spot, and will enter in the 2nd Qualifying Round – a round earlier than they did last year.  That means they will have to progress through three qualifying rounds in order to make the group stage.  However, just like this season, they will only face champions of smaller countries, avoiding the 3rd and 4th placed sides from bigger nations.  In theory, that should give them an easier route to the group stage.  Their impressive performances in this season’s Champions League mean that it is almost certain that they will be seeded in each of their three qualifying rounds.

Europa League

The Europa League places are slightly more complicated.  There are 3 places available, and they will be allocated in the following order of preference.

  • Scottish Cup Winner (if not already qualified for Champions League)
  • 2nd in SPL
  • 3rd in SPL
  • Scottish Cup Runner-up (if Champions League qualifiers win Cup)
  • 4th in SPL

What that means

The 2nd and 3rd placed clubs in the SPL are guaranteed a Europa League spot.

There is also a spot available for the winners of the Scottish Cup.  If the Scottish Cup is won by a club which qualifies for the Champions League, then the Scottish Cup runner-up will get the other available place.

4th place in the SPL can qualify in one of two ways:

  • Scottish Cup won by the team who finishes 2nd or 3rd in the SPL.
  • Scottish Cup won by Celtic and they beat the team who finishes 2nd or 3rd in the SPL in the final.

The “best” qualifier (either the Scottish Cup winners or 2nd in the SPL) will enter the Europa League 3rd Qualifying Round, and would have to win two ties to reach the group stage.  The other two sides will enter at the 2nd Qualifying Round and would have to win three ties to reach the group stage.