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UEFA Europa League Preview: Gothenburg begin adventure against Fola Esch, Rosenborg face Jelgava

Two-time winners Gothenburg begin their UEFA Europa League campaign at the first qualifying stage against Fola Esch on Thursday.

With 39 ties in the opening round of this season’s competition, the Swedish side are one of 78 sides looking to progress into round two and harbouring dreams of taking their place in the main draw.

After a third-place finish in the Allsvenskan last season, Gothenburg, who won the competition in its former guise as the UEFA Cup in 1982 and 1987, have been handed what appears to be a favourable draw against their opponents from Luxembourg.

However, they will be wary of defeat having lost in the second qualifying round to Trencin from Slovakia last year to extend their absence from the first round proper to 15 years.

Facing Swedish opponents is not something new for Fola Esch, though, having previously faced, and lost to, Elfsborg in this round of the competition in 2011.

Another Scandinavian powerhouse, Rosenborg, enter the competition having enjoyed regular European football in the last decade, including making the group stages of the UEFA Champions League in 2007-08.

The Norwegian side were runners-up in the Tippeligaen last season to qualify for the competition, and coach Per Joar Hansen will be looking to repeat the group-stage appearance of two seasons ago.

Latvian Cup winners Jelgava are their opponents in the opening round, and they will be hoping to avoid a second exit at the hands of Norwegian opposition.

Four years ago, Jelgava made the second qualifying round and were drawn against Molde, but the Latvians were unable to progress and will be hoping for a better outcome to their sixth European campaign.

Derek McInnes leads Aberdeen into their first continental match since 2009 against Daugava Riga, the former Cup Winners Cup holders looking to build on a productive domestic season that saw them finish third in the Scottish top flight.

Ferencvaros, who have won the Hungarian League 28 times in their history, prepare for their first European clash in three years against Sliema Wanderers of Malta, while College Europa are the first Gibraltan team to enter the competition.

Vaduz are their opponents in what will be a momentous occasion for the newest member nation of UEFA.

Tromso and Shakhter Karagandy, who reached the group stages last year, will be brought back down to earth as they start a new campaign at the very beginning.

Tromso face the Estonian Cup runners-up Tartu Santos from the third division, while Shakhter entertain FC Shirak from Armenia.

Sun 29 June, 2014
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