Belfast Telegraph

Who can the Irish League teams face in Europe and when are the Champions League and Europa League draws?

Irish League players are currently enjoying a hard-earned summer break but very soon, the top clubs will be back in training to prepare for their European qualification ties.

Champions Crusaders, of course, have a Champions League first qualifying round to look forward to while Irish Cup winners Coleraine, Glenavon and play-off winners Cliftonville all have Europa League football coming up in the middle of July.

So what all do we know about the Irish League teams' European conquests?

Who can champions Crusaders face in the Champions League?

The Crues, as Irish League champions, will enter the Champions Path of qualification in round one. Crusaders are ranked 299th in Europe and fall 42 places short of earning a seeded spot in the draw. That, obviously, makes their task all the harder.

They will come up against one of 16 seeded national champions; a list that includes most-notably Scottish double-treble winners Celtic.

Teams Crusaders could face: Ludogorets Razgrad (Bulgaria), Celtic (Scotland), APOEL (Cyprus), Legia Warsaw (Poland), Astana (Kazakhstan), Qarabağ (Azerbaijan), Sheriff Tiraspol (Moldova), Malmö FF (Sweden), Red Star Belgrade (Serbia), Hapoel Be'er Sheva (Israel), Rosenborg (Norway), HJK (Finland), The New Saints (Wales), Videoton (Hungary), Kukësi (Albania), Zrinjski Mostar (Bosnia and Herzegovina)

But they have more chance of drawing Celtic than you might think: That's because UEFA are likely to split the teams up into smaller regions shortly before the draw takes place. When asked for a definitive answer on whether or not this would be case, UEFA said no further information was available at this stage. Because of that and the fact that no set rules are known, we can't put the teams into hard and fast groups yet. Let's just say the Crues are more likely to go to Scotland or Wales than Hungary or Bulgaria.

When does the Champions League first qualifying round draw take place? That will be on Tuesday, June 19 in Nyon. The second qualifying round will also be drawn so Crusaders will also discover the prize on offer for victory.

When will the Champions League first qualifying round matches be played? The first legs will be played on July 10/11 with the second legs taking place on July 17/18.

What if they're put out? Well, remember, when Crusaders drop out of the Champions League, they will get a second bite at the European cherry in the Europa League.

Who can Coleraine, Glenavon and Cliftonville be drawn against in the Europa League?

Cliftonville are ranked 319th in Europe, Coleraine T423rd and Glenavon 425th. Unfortunately for them, none of those places are good enough to earn a seeded place in the Europa League first qualifying round draw. Cliftonville were close, just 21 places off the last ranking side FK Željezničar (298th).

All of the Irish League sides, then, will face higher ranked, seeded European teams. The most notable are Scottish duo Rangers or Hibernian while Dundalk are also seeded. Derry City are unseeded, along with the Irish League teams and Shamrock Rovers.

Teams Coleraine, Glenavon and Cliftonville could face as things stand: Copenhagen (Denmark), Maribor (Slovenia), Maccabi Tel Aviv (Israel), Partizan (Serbia), Molde (Norway), Apollon Limassol (Cyprus), Dinamo Minsk (Belarus), Lech Poznań (Poland), FH (Iceland), Dundalk (Republic of Ireland), Žalgiris (Lithuania), Gabala (Azerbaijan), Osijek (Croatia), Nordsjælland (Denmark), Vardar (Republic of Macedonia), Trenčín (Slovakia), Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia), Beitar Jerusalem (Israel), Anorthosis Famagusta (Cyprus), Dinamo Tbilisi (Georgia), Viitorul Constanța (Romania), Górnik Zabrze (Poland), AIK (Sweden), Nõmme Kalju (Estonia), BK Häcken (Sweden), Keşla (Azerbaijan), Neftçi Baku (Azerbaijan), Slavia Sofia (Bulgaria), CSKA Sofia (Bulgaria), Levski Sofia (Bulgaria), Ventspils (Latvia), Radnički Niš (Serbia), Spartak Subotica (Serbia), Shakhtyor Soligorsk (Belarus), Rangers (Scotland), Hibernian (Hibernian), Kairat (Kazakhstan), Irtysh Pavlodar (Kazakhstan), Tobol (Kazakhstan), Fola Esch (Luxembourg), Sarpsborg 08 (Norway), Rabotnički (Republic of Macedonia), Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Domžale (Slovenia), Mladost Podgorica (Montenegro), Željezničar (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Rudar Velenje (Slovenia)

But the Irish League teams are more likely to face Rangers or Celtic than you might think: Yes, you've guessed it; the draw will probably be split into smaller regional groups, just like the Champions League first qualifying round, as has been the case in previous seasons. As above, when asked for a definitive answer on whether or not this would be case, UEFA said no further information was available at this stage. Because of that and the fact that no set rules are known, we can't put the teams into hard and fast groups yet.

When does the Europa League first qualifying round draw take place? That will be on Wednesday, June 20 in Nyon. The second qualifying round will also be drawn so all the teams will also discover the prize on offer for victory.

When will the Europa League first qualifying round matches be played? The first leg matches are scheduled for July 12 with the second legs a week later on July 19.

And what if they make it through a round? Well, teams such as Sevilla, Burnley, Bordeaux and RB Leipzig lie in wait.

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