MADRID – Espanyol discovered who their first rivals in Europe will be this season in their efforts to qualify for the group stage of the Europa League when the draw was made for the first and second qualifying rounds of the tournament at the head offices of UEFA in Nyon, Switzerland on Wednesday.
Wu Lei’s team enter the tournament at the second qualifying round, but have to get through that and two more rounds to reach the group stage on the Europa League after finishing seventh in the Liga Santander last season to secure their first European appearance in 12 years.
Wednesday’s draw saw Espanyol drawn to face the winner of the first qualifying round tie between Islandic side St Jarnan and the Estonian team FC Levadia Tallinn.
Espanyol, who will be favorites to qualify for the third qualifying round, will play their first game at home on July 25th, with the return leg in either Iceland or Estonia on August 1st.
The early start to European competition means the Espanyol players will have short holidays this summer and they will also return to work with a new man in charge after Joan Francesc Ferrer ‘Rubi’ the man who led them back to Europe last season, decided to leave the club to join Betis.
Rubi has been replaced by former B-team coach David Gallego, who previously had a brief spell in charge of the first team in 2018, winning four out of five games after Quique Sanchez Flores had been sacked to assure the team’s survival in the Spanish top-flight.