Welsh Premier League clubs prepare for European adventure

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While the national team are leaving their mark on Euro 2016, four WPL clubs are waiting eagerly for the European draws which will be made next Monday, 20 June.

The New Saints have secured their place in the Champions League qualifying stages for the fifth season on the trot, while Bala Town, MBi Llandudno and gap Connah’s Quay will compete in the Europa League first qualifying round.

There are only four clubs that could potentially be drawn against TNS, while there are 48 different teams in the pot to face the other three Welsh representatives.

The New Saints’ potential opponents:

B36 Torshavn(Faroe Islands)
The New Saints’ opponents in last season’s first qualifying round.

TNS beat B36 6-2 on aggregate last summer with Michael Wilde netting a hat-trick in the home leg to become the first WPL player to score a hat-trick in the Champions League competition. The New Saints went on lose 2-1 on aggregate in the next round against Hungarian side Videoton.

It was a family affair against B36 last season as brothers Adrian and Lukasz Cieslewicz went head to head with Lukasz scoring a late consolation goal for B36 in the first leg at Park Hall.

The New Saints won the WPL for the 10th time in their history this season, but B36 went one better by lifting their 11th league title in the Faroe Islands top division.

Lincoln Red Imps(Gibraltar)
A semi-professional side from Gibraltar that has won the league title 21 times and are currently on a run of 13 successive title wins.

The Red Imps are the only team from Gibraltar to ever play in the qualifying stages of the Champions League.

But the Gibraltan side have never came up against a Welsh club in their previous European campaigns.

Alashkert(Armenia)
A relatively new club from Armenia that play their home games in the capital, Yerevan.

The club was founded in 1990 but went bust in 2000 and was re-established in 2011.

Alashkert beat St Johnstone from the Scottish Premier League last year in the qualifying stages of the Champions League.

Their captain, Vahagn Minasyan, has been capped 12 times by Armenia and has scored one goal for his country.

Tre Penne(San Marino)
Tre Penne have reached Europe for the fifth time in their history, but are yet to win a round in Europe.

The San Marino side won a game in Europe for the first time when they beat Armenian side Shirak 1-0 in the opening leg in 2013/14, but went on lose 3-0 in the second leg.

Their squad is made up of Italians and players from San Marino itself.

Champions League 1st Qualifying Round
1st leg – 28/29 June
2nd leg – 5/6 July

Champions League 2nd Qualifying Round
1st leg – 12/13 July
2nd leg – 19/20 July

If TNS were to win their first round then Dundalk (Ireland) and Crusaders Belfast (Northern Ireland) would be two of the 17 possible opponents in the second qualifying round.

EUROPA LEAGUE

MBi Llandudno and gap Connah’s Quay have qualified for Europe for the first time in their history, while Bala are preparing for their third European adventure.

Bala will be hoping to be ‘third-time lucky’ as they’ve marginally failed to win a round in both of their previous two European ties, losing 3-2 on aggregate against Estonian side Levadia Tallin in 2013/14, and losing 4-3 on aggregate against FC Differdange of Luxembourg last year.

There are 48 potential opponents in the pot to face the Welsh sides and here are some of the bigger names:

Maccabi Tel-Aviv(Israel)
The highest ranking club in the first qualifying round.

Maccabi Tel-Aviv reached the Champions League group stage last season but lost all their group games against Chelsea, Dynamo Kiev and Porto.

Previous managers include Paulo Sousa, Avram Grant and Johan Cruyff.

FC Midtjylland(Denmark)
Midtjylland beat Man Utd 2-1 in their first leg in the Europa League last season but lost 5-1 in the second leg with the help of two goals from debutant Marcus Rashford.

The Danish side have faced Welsh opposition twice in the past, winning the two ties, beating Bangor 10-1 on aggregate in 2008/09 and beating TNS 8-3 on aggregate in 2011/12.

Owner Matthew Benham is also the owner of Championship side, Brentford.

FK Ventspils(Latvia)
Ventspils beat Airbus UK on away goals in 2013/14 (0-0 in Latvia, 1-1 at the Airfield).

Ventspils have also knocked out Llanelli in 2008/09 and TNS in 2007/08.

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The last two clubs to knock out TNS from Europe are also in the mix, Videoton (Hungary) and Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia).

Bala could come up against their previous opponents FC Differdange (Luxembourg) or Levadia Tallin (Estonia).
Lokomotiva Zagreb (Croatia) who beat Airbus last season are in the draw, as well as HJK Helsinki (Finland) who beat Bangor 13-0 on aggregate back in 2011/12.

A lot of potential, attractive locations but some fans may be hoping for a shorter trip to play the likes of Aberdeen, Hearts, Shamrock Rovers, St.Patrick’s Athletic or Linfield Belfast who are all in the draw.

But who would you like to see come out of the pot on Monday, 20 June? Let us know by tweeting @sgorio or by commenting on our Facebook page.

48 possible opponents for Bala Town, MBi Llandudno and gap Connah’s Quay and their European co-efficiency:
Maccabi Tel Aviv – 20.225
Midtjylland – 14.720
HJK – 10.980
Dinamo Minsk – 10.000
Omonia – 9.935
Neftçi Baku – 9.725
AEK Larnaca – 9.435
AIK – 8.975
Slovan Bratislava – 8.900
Videoton – 8.725
Aktobe – 8.075
Vojvodina – 7.925
Shakhtyor Soligorsk – 7.500
Spartak Trnava – 7.400
Brøndby – 7.220
IFK Göteborg – 6.475
Debrecen – 6.475
Heart of Midlothian – 6.460
Ventspils – 6.075
Admira Wacker Mödling – 6.020
Lokomotiva – 5.775
KR – 5.750
Dila Gori – 5.625
Aberdeen – 5.460
Odd – 5.350
Gabala – 5.225
Rabotnički – 5.200
Vaduz – 4.850
Kairat – 4.825
Differdange 03 – 4.800
Shamrock Rovers – 4.590
St Patrick’s Athletic – 4.590
Zagłębie Lubin – 4.500
Cracovia – 4.500
Linfield – 4.400
Dacia Chișinău – 4.325
Beitar Jerusalem – 4.225
Stabæk – 4.100
Kukësi – 4.075
Čukarički – 3.925
Levadia Tallinn – 3.850
Nõmme Kalju – 3.850
Pyunik – 3.825
Zimbru Chișinău – 3.825
Breiðablik – 3.750
Široki Brijeg – 3.675
Beroe Stara Zagora – 3.625
Domžale – 3.625

Europa League 1st Qualifying Round
1st leg – 30 June
2nd leg – 7 July

Europa League 2nd Qualifying Round
1st leg – 14 July
2nd leg – 21 July

Draws for the Champions League and Europa League will be made in Nyon, Switzerland on Monday, 20 June.