UEFA Champions League: Valletta drawn with FK Kukësi

Valletta were drawn with FK Kukësi of Albania in the first qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League in the draw which was held in Nyon on Tuesday. The first leg will be played in Kukës on July 10/11 with the second leg scheduled for July 17/18 at the Centenary Stadium.

If Valletta qualify, they would meet Olimpija Ljubljana of Slovenia or Qarabağ of Azerbaijan in the second qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League. Matches are scheduled for 24/25 July at home and 31 July/1 August away from home.

On the other hand, in case of elimination from the first qualifying round, Valletta would move to the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round – champions path – the draws for which will be held on Tuesday at 16:00.

Futboll Klub Kukësi are based in the city of Kukës. The club plays its home games at the Zeqir Ymeri Stadium and they currently compete in the Albanian Superliga, which is the highest tier of Albanian football. The club played in the lower divisions for much of its history since 1930, prior to their 2012 promotion to the Albanian Superliga, where they have finished as runners up four times – in 2012/13, 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2017/8. They won the championship in 2016/17, the Albanian Cup in 2015/16 and the Super Cup in 2016.

Last season, they finished as runners-up in the Albanian Superliga, nine points behind Skënderbeu Korçë but they replace them in the Champions League as the latter received a 10-year ban for match fixing.

In their first adventure in the UEFA Europa League in 2013/14, they eliminated Flora Tallinn on the away goals rule, Sarajevo with a 3-2 aggregate score and Metalurh Donetsk 2-1 on aggregate but were eliminated by Trabzonspor in the Play-Off. The following season, they had an early exit from the Europa League after losing narrowly to Kairat. In 2015/16, they eliminated Torpedo-BelAZ Zhodino and Mladost Podgorica but lost to Legia Warsaw. In 2016/17, they eliminated Rudar Pljevlja but exited the second qualifying round after losing to Austria Wien. Last year, they took part in the UEFA Champions League for the first time but despite a 2-1 win at home, they lost 0-1 away from home to FC Sheriff Tiraspol to lose with the away goals rule.

The winners of the first qualifying round ties move on to the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round while the losers would move to the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round.

First Qualifying Round

1. Torpedo Kutaisi (GEO) vs Sheriff (MDA)
2. Shkëndija (MKD) vs The New Saints (WAL)
3. Sūduva (LTU) vs APOEL (CYP)
4. Olimpija Ljubljana (SVN) vs Qarabağ (AZE)
5. F91 Dudelange (LUX) vs Videoton (HUN)

6. Winners of the preliminary round vs Malmö (SWE)
7. HJK Helsinki (FIN) vs Víkingur (FRO)
8. Ludogorets Razgrad (BUL) vs Crusaders (NIR)
9. Cork City (IRL) vs Legia Warszawa (POL)
10. Valur Reykjavík (ISL) vs Rosenborg (NOR)

11. Kukës (ALB) vs Valletta (MLT)
12. Flora Tallinn (EST) vs Hapoel Beer-Sheva (ISR)
13. Spartaks Jūrmala (LVA) vs Crvena zvezda (SRB)
14. Alashkert (ARM) vs Celtic (SCO)
15. Spartak Trnava (SVK) vs Zrinjski (BIH)
16. Astana (KAZ) vs Sutjeska (MNE)

UEFA Champions League Second Qualifying Round – Champions Path
Winners of Astana (KAZ)/Sutjeska (MNE) vs Midtjylland (DEN)
Winners of Ludogorets Razgrad (BUL)/Crusaders (NIR) vs Winners of F91 Dudelange (LUX)/Videoton (HUN)
Winners of Kukës (ALB)/Valletta (MLT) vs Winners of Olimpija Ljubljana (SVN)/Qarabağ (AZE)
CFR Cluj (ROU) vs Winners of the preliminary round match/Malmö (SWE)
Dinamo Zagreb (CRO) vs Winners of Flora Tallinn (EST)/Hapoel Beer-Sheva (ISR)

Winners of Spartaks Jūrmala (LVA)/Crvena zvezda (SRB) vs Winners of Sūduva (LTU)/APOEL (CYP)
BATE Borisov (BLR) vs Winners of HJK Helsinki (FIN)/Víkingur (FRO)
Winners of Shkëndija (MKD)/The New Saints (WAL) vs Winners of Torpedo Kutaisi (GEO)/Sheriff (MDA)
Winners of Cork City (IRL)/Legia Warszawa (POL) vs Winners of Spartak Trnava (SVK)/Zrinjski (BIH)
Winners of Alashkert (ARM)/Celtic (SCO) vs Winners of Valur Reykjavík (ISL)/Rosenborg (NOR)

UEFA Champions League Second Qualifying Round – League Path
PAOK (GRE) vs Basel (SWI)
Ajax (NED) vs Sturm Graz (AUT)

UEFA Europa League Second qualifying round champions path (26 July & 2 August)
This path will consist of the three teams eliminated in the UEFA Champions League preliminary round (which concludes on 29 June) and the 16 teams eliminated in the UEFA Champions League first qualifying round (ending 17/18 July).

Bye: Loser of Cork City (IRL)/Legia Warszawa (POL)
Loser of Shkëndija (MKD)/The New Saints (WAL) vs Finalist Preliminary Round
Loser of Torpedo Kutaisi (GEO)/Sheriff (MDA) vs Loser of HJK Helsinki (FIN)/Víkingur (FRO)
Loser of Spartak Trnava (SVK)/Zrinjski (BIH) vs Loser of Kukës (ALB)/Valletta (MLT)

Loser FC Santa Coloma (AND)/Drita (KOS) vs Loser of Valur Reykjavík (ISL)/Rosenborg (NOR)
Loser of Astana (KAZ)/Sutjeska (MNE) vs Loser of Alashkert (ARM)/Celtic (SCO)
Loser of F91 Dudelange (LUX)/Videoton (HUN) vs Loser of Winners of the Preliminary round/Malmö (SWE)

Loser of Spartaks Jūrmala (LVA)/Crvena zvezda (SRB) vs Loser La Fiorita (SMR)/Lincoln (GIB)
Loser of Sūduva (LTU)/APOEL (CYP) vs Loser of Flora Tallinn (EST)/Hapoel Beer-Sheva (ISR)
Loser of Olimpija Ljubljana (SVN)/Qarabağ (AZE) vs Loser of Ludogorets Razgrad (BUL)/Crusaders (NIR)