On their return to European football after an absence of forty five years, Gzira United will be all out to get a positive result as they face UE Sant Julià in the first leg of the preliminary round of the UEFA Europa League at the Estadi Comunal in Andorra la Vella on Tuesday, kick-off at 20:00.
The Maroons secured a place in Europe after finishing third last season, seven points behind champions Valletta and four behind Balzan. This summer the squad has been strengthened with Hibernians duo Rodolfo Soares and Jorge Pereira da Silva, Mosta defender Thomas Veronese and Zach Scerri who made a permanent move to the club after spending the last two years on loan from Hibs.
On the other hand, Antonio Orlando de Macedo Neto, Kris Thackray and Gary Muir were not retained, Moises Avila Perez moved back to Spain while Haruna Garba was loaned to a club in Sudan.
Unió Esportiva Sant Julià, who are based in the parish of Sant Julià de Lòria in Andorra, were founded in 1982 UE Sant Julià. The team have been playing in the top flight since the foundation of the Andorran Premier League in 1995. Since then UE Sant Julià have won the Andorran championship twice (2004–05 and 2008–09) and are five time Copa Constitució winners (2008, 2010, 2011, 2014 and 2015).
Last season, they placed third in the Primera Divisió, ten points behind champions FC Santa Coloma. They lost the Copa Constitució final 1-2 to Santa Coloma.
UE Sant Julià took part in European competitions for the first time in 2000/01 but were eliminated in the first round of Intertoto Cup by Lausanne-Sport. In the Intertoto Cup 2002/03, they drew 2–2 at home against Coleraine from Northern Ireland, but away from home lost 5–0. They suffered an 11-0 aggregate defeat to FK Smederevo of Serbia in the 2004/05 Intertoto Cup while in their first participation in the UEFA Cup, in 2005/06, they lost to Rapid Bucureşti 0–10 on aggregate.
In 2006/07 and 2007/08, they once again took part in the Intertoto Cup, being eliminated by Maribor of Slovenia and Slavija Sarajevo of Bosnia-Herzegovina. They returned to the UEFA Cup in 2008, losing to Cherno More of Bulgaria with 0-9 aggregate in the first qualifying round. The following season, they managed to reach a second round for the first time as they eliminated Tre Fiori of San Marino on penalties following two 1-1 draws in the UEFA Champions League. They were then eliminated by Levski Sofia of Bulgaria.
Since then, they only participated in the UEFA Europa League. In 2010, they were eliminated by MyPa-47 of Finland, in 2011 by Bnei Yehuda of Israel, in 2014 by Cukaricki Belgrade of Serbia – despite a goalless draw at home, in 2015 by Randers FC of Denmark and last season by Skënderbeu Korçë of Albania.
Gzira had represented Malta in the Cup Winners Cup in 1973, losing 0-9 on aggregate to SK Brann Bergen of Norway.