Tough Europa Third Round Test for Saints

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Scottish Cup and League Cup heroes St Johnstone are among three teams guaranteed a place in the third qualifying round of the Europa League.

Europa League trophy

Scottish Cup and League Cup heroes St Johnstone are among three teams guaranteed a place in the third qualifying round of the Europa League.

Callum Davidson’s men were outstanding last season and managed to break the Old Firm stranglehold of the domestic competitions by winning both the Scottish Cup and Scottish League Cup.

Their reward is a European exploit, with two ties separating them from the group stage.

However, they will face either PSV Eindhoven or Galatasaray in the third qualifying round, which will certainly be a big step up for the Saints.

Czech side Jablonec and Cypriot outfit Anorthosis Famagusta are the only two confirmed sides in the third round, with ties taking place on August 5 and 12.

Lack Of Experience To Count Against Saints

There is no question St Johnstone will be very excited to embark on their first European campaign since 2017, when they lost, somewhat disappointingly, in the first qualifying round against Lithuanian side Trakai.

However, it might be short-lived again this year, given who they could potentially be up against.

The loser of PSV and Galatasaray in Champions League qualifying will play St Johnstone over two legs and both are, of course, very seasoned European competitors.

The Dutch side have only failed to make the group stage of either major European competition twice this century, while the Turkish team have gone as far as the quarter-finals of the Champions League back in 2013.

In terms of their meeting, PSV have home advantage first and haven’t lost at the Philips Stadion since a 3-1 defeat by AZ Alkmaar in January.

Galatasaray may find themselves on the back foot having lost six away games in the Turkish Super Lig last season, as well as last season’s Europa League play-off against Rangers.

PSV can be backed at 4/6 to win the first leg and go half way to setting up St Johnstone v Galatasaray showdown.

Jablonec Could Face Bhoys Test

Czech side Jablonec are the second team guaranteed a place in the Europa League third qualifying draw and they may be rewarded with a tie against Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic.

Of course, the Australian will hope to avoid that and instead progress through their Champions League qualifier against Danish side Midtjylland this week.

The 55-year-old certainly has some damage to repair after a poor campaign last year when Celtic they lost their grip on the Scottish Premiership title.

They face a Midtjylland side who are particularly poor travellers – they lost each of their last three in the Championship Group towards the end of last season – and started the new Danish Superliga season this weekend with a home loss against Odense.

Celtic should comfortably get through the first leg and can be backed at 21/20 to win, with a two-legged loss setting up a Midtjylland and Jablonec showdown.

Famagusta to Face Rapid or Sparta

The third team definitely in the third round of the Europa League qualifying stage are Anorthosis Famagusta, who finished fourth in last season’s Cypriot First Division.

They will face the loser of the Rapid Vienna and Sparta Prague tie with both sides fresh from second-place finishes in their respective leagues last season.

The Czech outfit won each of their last five games of the league season and have racked up some big scores in pre-season so far, albeit against largely inferior opposition.

Rapid ended their league season in May losing three from four and Sparta will surely fancy their chances of success.

They are a tempting 37/20 to win the first leg, which could go a long way to setting up a tie between Rapid Vienna and Anorthosis Famagusta.

*All odds correct at time of writing

A sports journalist for over 15 years, Aidan has been part of written and audio coverage on a wide-ranging number of events. Having played and coached at amateur level, he offers in-depth insight and opinion into the world of football in particular.

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