Hearts: Possible Europa League play-off opponents, no Neil Lennon match, Manchester United, Arsenal & Roma

The 2021/22 campaign may have just finished but Hearts are already looking forward to their first European campaign since 2016.

Unlike six years ago, when the team were knocked out by Maltese outfit Birkirkara, Hearts are guaranteed eight games.

What stage will Hearts enter?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

With Rangers qualifying for the Champions League through the league, Hearts take on their status as ‘Cup Winners’ due to a comfortable third-place finish. This means they will be Scotland’s representative in the Europa League and enter at the play-off round stage.

How does the play-off work?

As ‘Cup Winners’, Hearts are one of seven Priority 1 teams, including the likes of Gent, Austria Vienna and Dnipro-1.

The way the draw works is that there will be two Priority 4 teams and they will be pitted against two clubs in Priority 1. The remaining five Priority 1 teams will be drawn against a Priority 3 team.

Winning the play-off means progress to the group stage.

Hearts will enter the Europa League at the play-off round stage. (Photo by Sammy Turner / SNS Group)

Who could Hearts face in the play-off?

Firstly, there will be no meeting with former Hibs and Celtic manager Neil Lennon. He led Omonia Nicosia to the Cypriot Cup and they are now alongside Hearts in Priority 1. If both progressed they would likely be in the same pot due to having very similar coefficients.

As for potential opponents, it is pretty unclear at the moment due to the vast majority of teams in Priority 3 and 4 dropping down from the second round of Champions League qualifying.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

However, the two Priority 4 teams will be made up of six potential opponents that are known.

Serbian giants Partizan Belgrade and Slovácko from Czech Republic are both seeded in the Europa League third qualifying round. They will be drawn against the losers of Champions League second round qualifying League Path. That round will see seeds Dynamo Kyiv and Midtjylland drawn against non-seeds Fenerbahçe and AEK Larnaca.

The Europa League group stage

Based on current league standings and the assumption the team with the better coefficient progresses, it is predicted Hearts will reach the group stage and be in Pot 4 – of course, that is very likely to change once qualification gets underway.

Getting there could throw up some excellent ties and away days for fans.

Twelve teams are already confirmed for the group stage: Manchester United, Roma, Lazio, Arsenal, Braga, Feyenoord, Rennes, Real Betis, Real Sociedad, Union Berlin, Freiburg and Nantes.

What happens if Hearts lose the play-off?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A defeat would see Hearts drop into the Conference League group stage.

Any tasty opponents in there?

As of yet, there are no teams qualified for the group stage. However, the play-off round will include Fiorentina, Villarreal, West Ham United, Nice and FC Koln.

What are the key dates?

The draw for the play-off is August 1 with games taking place August 18 and 25. The group stage draw for both competitions is on August 26. Group dates are: September 8 & 15, October, 6, 13 & 27 and November 3.

Money on offer?

If Hearts get into the Europa League group stage it is €3.63m with €630,000 for a group win and €210,000 for a draw. For the Conference League it drops to €2.94m for group stage participation, €500,000 a group win and €166,000 for a draw.

Read More
Hearts look to take 'next step' as Robbie Neilson spells out summer recruitment ...



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.