Cork City to learn Europa League opposition

SSE Airtricity League of Ireland leaders Cork City will today learn their Europa League opponent for the first qualifying round.

The Champions League and Europa League opening qualifying rounds will be drawn, with City, Shamrock Rovers, and Derry City looking for attractive, if winnable pairings.

Along with the three League of Ireland clubs, there are eight British and Northern Ireland sides in the first qualifying round draw.

They are St Johnstone and Rangers from Scotland, Crusaders, Coleraine, and Ballymena United from Northern Ireland, as well as Welsh trio Bala Town, Connah’s Quay Nomads, and Bangor City. Aberdeen will also learn which of two first-round teams they will take on in the second round.

Rangers, St Johnstone, and Crusaders are all seeded, which means they are possible opponents for the League of Ireland clubs.

Everton will start the tournament in the third qualifying round as they bid to earn a play-off and then a place in the group stage.

Arsenal’s fifth-place finish meant they missed out on the Champions League and instead earned an automatic place in the Europa League group stage.

The opening leg of the Champions League’s first qualifying rounds will be played on June 27 and 28, with the second legs coming a week later on July 4 and 5.

The Europa League’s first-round ties will take place on June 29 and July 6.

In the Champions League, there are three qualifying rounds and then a final play-off round before the group stage, with Scottish champions Celtic entered into the second qualifying round, along with Dundalk.

Chelsea, Manchester City, and Tottenham have all earned automatic spots into the Champions League group stage, while Liverpool, who finished fourth in the Premier League last season, are entered straight into the play-off round.

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