With all domestic competitions around Europe coming to an end last week, the possible opponents for Hibernians in the UEFA Champions League and for Balzan, Birkirkara and Valletta in the UEFA Europa League in the June 22 draws are now known.
Hibernians enter the second qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League scheduled for July 14/15 and 21/22 while Balzan, Birkirkara and Valletta will be in action in the first qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League on July 2 and 9.
With Malta being ranked 45th, champions Hibernians avoid the first qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League which will feature the champions of Northern Ireland, Wales, Armenia, Estonia, Faroe Islands, San Marino, Andorra and Gibraltar. The ranking is based on the last five years and unless local clubs obtain a number of positive results, Malta will lose places in the ranking and the Maltese champion would once again in first qualifying round in the coming years.
Clubs are divided into seeded and unseeded teams and then the seeded and unseeded teams are split into regional groups with Maltese clubs usually being placed with clubs from southern and, sometimes also, eastern Europe.
With a coefficent of 1.591, Hibernians are the team with the lowest coefficient and are therefore unseeded.
The seeded teams are: Steaua Bucuresti, Celtic, APOEL Nicosia, BATE Borisov, Ludogorets Razgrad, Dinamo Zagreb, NK Maribor, Maccabi Tel-Aviv, champions of Poland, Partizan Belgrade, Malmö FF, Garabag Agdam, HJK Helsinki, Molde FK, FC Midtjylland, Videoton Fehérvár and Skënderbeu Korçë.
Ruling out the teams from the northern countries due to the regional grouping, the likely opponents for the Paolites would be among:
Steaua Bucharest of Romania, APOEL of Cyprus, Dila Gori of Georgia, Ludogorets of Bulgaria, Dinamo Zagreb of Croatia, NK Maribor of Slovenia, Maccabi Tel-Aviv, Partizan Belgrade, Garabag Agdam of Azerbaijan, Videoton of Hungary and Sek Skënderbeu Korçë of Albania.
In the UEFA Europa League, having a coefficient of 4.841 and 3.591 respectively, both Premier League runners-up Valletta and FA Trophy winners Birkirkara are seeded and therefore stand a good chance of being paired with a team against which they could target qualification to the second qualifying round. On the other hand, Balzan, in their first ever participation in Europe, hold a coefficient of 0.841 and will be drawn with a team which is seeded.
The seeded teams in the UEFA Europa League first qualifying round, along with Valletta and Birkirkara, are:
West Ham United, Sheriff Tiraspol, Rosenborg BK, IF Elfsborg, Hajduk Split, Apollon Limassol, Omonia Nicosia, Slovan Bratislava, AIK Stockholm, Neftchi Baku, Slask Wroclaw, MSK Zilina, FK Aktobe, Go Ahead Eagles, Red Star Belgrade, DVSC Debrecen, Brøndby IF, Shakhtior Saligorsk, Dinamo Tbilisi, Litex Lovech, Vojvodina Novi Sad, Spartak Trnava, FH Hafnarfjardar, St. Johnstone, Zeljeznicar Sarajevo, Randers FC, Strømsgodset IF, KR Reykjavik, Jagiellonia Bialystok, FC Botosani, Lokomotiva Zagreb, Shamrock Rovers, F91 Dudelange, Inter Baku, Linfield Belfast, FC Beroe Stara Zagora, Differdange 03, Rabotnicki Skopje, Torpedo Zhodino, Aberdeen, Dacia Chisinau, NK Koper, St. Patrick’s Athletic, Beitar Jerusalem, Zrinjski Mostar, HB Torshavn, Buducnost Podgorica, NK Domzale, FC Vaduz.
The unseeded teams along with Balzan are:
Cukaricki Belgrade, NK Celje, Kalju Nomme, Flora Tallinn, Ferencváros, Sutjeska Niksic, Skonto Riga, Víkingur, Renova Dzepciste, Odd Grenland, FK Kukësi, Gabala FK, Shkendija Tetovo, Ordabasy Shymkent, Kairat Almaty, MTK Budapest, Shirak Gyumri, Mladost Podgorica, KF Laçi, Ulisses Yerevan, Saxan Gagauz Yeri, Glentoran, VPS Vaasa, Dinamo Batumi, Spartak Tskhinvali, Kalev Sillamäe, FC Lusitanos, SJK Seinäjoki, FC Lahti, Vikingur Reykjavik, FK Jelgava, Olimpic Sarajevo, NSI Runavik, Sant Julià, Atlantas Klaipeda, Glenavon, Cork City, Uni College Dublin, Kruoja Pakruojis, La Fiorita, Airbus UK Broughton, Partizani Tirana, Progrès Niederkorn, FK Trakai, Spartaks Jurmala, Bala Town, Juvenes Dogana, Newtown, Alashkert FC and College Europa.
Possible opponents for Birkirkara and Valletta are:
Cukaricki Belgrade of Serbia, NK Celje of Slovenia, Ferencváros and MTK Budapest of Hungary, Sutjeska Niksic and Mladost Podgorica of Montenegro, Renova Dzepciste and Shkendija Tetovo of Macedonia, FK Kukësi, KF Laçi and Partizani Tirana of Albania, Gabala FK of Azerbaijan, Ordabasy Shymkent and Kairat Almaty of Kazakhstan, Shirak Gyumri, Ulisses Yerevan and Alashkert of Armenia, Saxan Gagauz Yeri of Moldova, Dinamo Batumi and Spartak Tskhinvali of Georgia, FC Lusitanos and Sant Julià of Andorra, Olimpic Sarajevo of Bosnia-Herzegovina, La Fiorita and Juvenes Dogana of San Marino and College Europa of Gibraltar.
On the other hand, possible opponents for Balzan are therefore:
Sheriff and Dacia Chisinau of Moldova, Hajduk Split and Lokomotiva Zagreb of Croatia, Apollon and Omonia of Cyprus, Slovan Bratislava and MSK Zilina of Slovakia, Neftchi and Inter Baku of Azerbaijan, Aktobe of Kazakhstan, Red Star and Vojvodina of Serbia, Debrecen of Hungary, Dinamo Tbilisi of Georgia, Litex and Beroe Stara Zagora of Bulgaria, Zeljeznicar and Zrinjski of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Botosani of Romania, Rabotnicki Skopje of Macedonia, NK Koper of Slovenia, Beitar Jerusalem of Israel and Buducnost of Montenegro.