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Wolves in Europe: Who could they play?

By Tim Spiers | Wolves | Published: | Last Updated:

Wolves are back in Europe after almost 40 years – and they'll know their possible first opponents in just a couple of weeks.

Wolves were last in Europe in 1980

The draw for the second qualifying round takes place on Wednesday, June 19.

Wolves will be paired with two teams from the first qualifying round, with those matches being played on on July 11 and 18.

Wolves then face their two-legged tie July 25 and August 1.

Nuno Espirito Santo's side will be seeded for the draw, meaning they'll avoid facing the likes of Roma, Rangers and last season's semi-finalists Eintracht Frankfurt.

So who can they be drawn against? We've taken a look at some of the many teams who'll be in the hat.

The ones to avoid

The majority of teams in the second qualifying round with any kind of European pedigree will be seeded, but there are a few very handy unseeded teams that Wolves will want to avoid.

Cypriot side AEL Limassol finished runners-up in their domestic league, losing a championship play-off to regular title winners APOEL, but did get some revenge by beating the same opponents 2-0 in the Cypriot Cup final to lift the trophy for the first time in 30 years.

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A lovely welcome at AEL Limassol

The highest ranked non-seeded team in the draw are currently Bosnian runners-up HSK Zrinjski Mostar, who had won the league title for three years in a row before being pipped by Sarajevo this season.

The name 'Brann' may make you think of Game of Thrones character, but it's actually the name of a pretty decent Norwegian side who finished third in the top flight last year, registering the club's highest points total in more than a decade.

Closer to home, Kilmarnock finished third in the Scottish Premiership to qualify for Europe for the first time since 2001, beating Rangers on the final day to secure their place.

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Kilmarnock are back in Europe

Steve Clarke may have left to take the Scotland job but Killie, who have a few new Scotland players in their squad including blossoming striker Eamonn Brophy, would be dangerous opponents.

The Brits (and Irish)

As well as Kilmarnock (and the seeded Scottish pair of Rangers and Aberdeen) there are a number of Welsh, Northern Irish and Irish sides featuring in the early stages of the competition.

Wolves could face a return to Cork City, where they won a largely forgettable pre-season friendly 2-1 back in 2016 (Conor Coady skippered a young side with Niall Ennis and Bright Enobakhare on the score-sheet in what was Wolves' final match before Fosun's takeover).

The fans go wild as Ennis scores against Cork (© AMA SPORTS PHOTO AGENCY)

The most unknown of the British and Irish sides would undoubtedly be university outfit Cardiff Metropolitan University, who secured an historic qualification to the tournament last month.

They will become the British university men's side to play in European competition but must get through both the preliminary round and the first qualifying round to reach Wolves' stage of the competition.

Ballymena United (Northern Ireland), Barry Town (Wales) and Cliftonville (Northern Ireland) join Cardiff Met in the 14-team preliminary round.

Then in at the first round stage come Connah's Quay Nomads (Wales), Cork City, Shamrock Rovers, Saint Patrick's Athletic (all Ireland) and Crusaders (Northern Ireland).

Far flung destinations

A trip to Cardiff or Cork may not be the glamour location Wolves fans are dreaming of visiting, but the alternative could possibly be a 4,300-mile jaunt to Almaty, Kazakhstan.

That's the home of Kairat, Kazakhstan runners-up in 2018 and also Kazakhstan cup winners, one of three Kazakhstan teams in the competition along with Ordabasy (just the 4,000 miles away) and Tobol (a quick bus ride at 3,200 miles).

Jaunts to Belarus (Shakhtyor Soligorsk and Vitebsk) and Finland (Inter Turku, Rovaniemen Palloseura and Kuopion Palloseura) may also be ones to avoid.

The minnows

The early stages of the Europa League are littered with teams who can legitimately be filed in the 'minnow' category.

Estonian outfit Narva Trans, who played at the 1,065 capacity Narva Kreenholm Stadium, would certainly be one.

"My garden shed..." will get an airing if Wolves travel to Narva Trans

The appropriately named Europa FC may play their football at an international stadium, but the 5,000 capacity Victoria Stadium (where all teams from Gibraltar play their matches) isn't exactly what Wolves are used to play. Still, the scenery's pretty nice.

The Rock's favourite stadium

Other minnows who Wolves could face include the third best team in Luxembourg, Jeunesse Esch, or Moldova's fourth best side, Speranta Nisporeni.

The dream tie?

Surely the ideal draw is against a team in a beautiful capital city, not a million miles away and a winnable tie against a opposition who every Wolves fan can relate to.

Step forward Honved, who of course Wolves famously beat back in 1954 during one of their prestigious floodlit friendlies at Molineux.

Bert Williams (left), Eddie Stuart (centre) and the legendary Ferenc Puskas (right) leave the field after Wolves beat Honved 3-2

Honved will need to negotiate a first qualifying round to have a chance of setting up a repeat of arguably the most notable game in Wolves' history, but what a tantalising prospect it is that the two grand old clubs could meet again.

There are a couple of helpful websites where you can find a full list of the dozens upon dozens of teams involved in the qualifying rounds of the Europa League, plus detailed explanations on seedings and the draws.

Football Seeding

Seeding in the Europa League

Tim Spiers

By Tim Spiers
@tim_spiers_Star

Writes about Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club for a living

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