The inaugural Uefa Europa Conference League season offers a long path to the final in Albania next May and those involved in the early qualifying rounds are unlikely to still be hanging around when the trophy is finally lifted.
However, the prize of reaching the group stage and potentially taking on Tottenham or Jose Mourinho’s Roma is a great one to many of the teams at this level and, much like the Nations League, it has given a number of smaller sides the opportunity to play a selection of fixtures against teams of a similar calibre rather than be dumped out of Europe before the summer is even over.
Andorran Minnows May Be In for Nervy Second Leg
Shamrock Rovers will be eagerly awaiting news from Andorra on Tuesday when Inter Club d’Escaldes host Teuta Dorres with the Irish outfit playing the winners in the next round.
The Andorrans caused a mighty upset in the first leg, recording a 2-0 success on the road, but this tie is not over just yet and it could be worth backing Teuta to at least give themselves a sniff of qualification by winning the return at odds of
Albanian champions Teuta could be forgiven losing to big-spending FC Sheriff in the Champions League qualifiers, given the Moldovans franked the form with a 1-0 win away to Alashkert in the first leg of the next round of Europe’s premier club competition.
Maybe Teuta took Inter Club d’Escaldes too lightly, however, they won’t make that mistake again. Albanian club coefficient is ranked at 41 by Uefa, with Andorra down in 54 where only San Marino sit below them and that suggests there is still a considerable gulf.
It is possible Teuta are not as strong as last season’s title-winning side with top scorer Dejuv Bregu heading to Turkish team Boluspor, but they have the quality to make a fightback.
Faroese Raiders Look a Value Bet
A more competitive betting heat comes in Montenegro, where Buducnost Podgorica is tackling Faroese raiders HB Torshavn to overcome a 4-0 deficit from last week.
The 4-0 margin flattered HB but they still dominated possession and had 18 goal attempts to Buducnost Podgorica’s 11. It was 7-4 on shots on target, plus 6-0 on corners so it wasn’t as if HB fluked the win.
Buducnost Podgorica were smashed 7-1 on aggregate against Finnish outfit HJK in Champions League qualifying, losing 4-0 at home, and interestingly the Faroe Islands are only three spots below Finland in the Uefa coefficients.
Those coefficients also highlight Faroe Islands are above Montenegro and there is little evidence to back up the idea Buducnost Podgorica will suddenly start playing to a level we have not witnessed in Europe so far this term.
*Odds correct at time of writing.