clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Seventh Heaven: One of these teams will be Fiorentina’s next opponent in the Europa Conference League

Before the draw takes place, a look at the teams Fiorentina could meet

ACF Fiorentina v Istanbul Basaksehir: Group A - UEFA Europa Conference League Photo by Tullio Puglia - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

Fiorentina have reached the knockout stages of the Europa Conference League. A poor start which saw us draw at home to RFS and lose heavily in Istanbul, means we finish the group as runners-up. Of course, the important thing is that we are still in the competition, and if you want to look on the bright side, hey we even get an extra game in Europe.

Having entered the competition in the play-off round, Fiorentina now face the knockout round play-offs. Winning that would put us into the last sixteen of the Conference League, where the group winners have already arrived, and we will now come up against one of the teams who finished in third place in the group stage of the Europa League.

The draw will take place next Monday, November 7th at 2pm CET, and there are seven clubs which we can be drawn with. Lazio are not one of the possibilities, as teams from the same association cannot be drawn to face each other at this stage. This leaves us with Bodø/Glimt, AEK Larnaca, Ludogorets, Braga, Sheriff Tiraspol, Qarabağ, and Trabzonspor.

Due to the rules of the competition, Fiorentina as a runner-up in the Conference League will be a seeded team, which means we will play the second leg of the play-off at home. So, let’s take a look at our possible opponents and you can decide who you would prefer to meet and who you would like to avoid.

If we judge by the current UEFA coefficient rankings, which consider performances in Europe over the last five seasons (including the current campaign) then Braga are the highest ranked at 35, followed by Qarabağ at 61, Ludogorets at 75, Bodø/Glimt at 80, Sheriff at 81, Trabzonspor at 121, and AEK Larnaca are the lowest ranked at 140. As a comparison, Fiorentina are ranked at 103, but this is due to the fact that we haven’t played in Europe for the previous four seasons, which shows up the limitations of judging solely by UEFA rankings. This is also proved by the fact that Juventus are currently ranked ninth overall in Europe.

It’s probably better to take a look at recent performances, both domestically and in Europe, so here’s a quick recap on how these seven clubs are doing right now.

After 11 rounds of the Portuguese Primeira Liga, Braga are in second place, six points behind undefeated Benfica and two points ahead of Porto. Last season Braga finished in fourth spot, which gave them qualification to the Europa League group stage. As one of the top seeds in the draw they looked to have been given a comfortable group, placed with Malmö, Union Berlin, and Union Saint-Gilloise of Belgium. Having started the group with wins over Malmö and Union Berlin, they then picked up a defeat and a draw against the Belgian side.

Braga then lost their game away to Union Berlin, current Bundesliga leaders, but last night’s win over Malmö could have seen them progress in the Europa League. It wasn’t to be, as Union Berlin won their final game away to Union SG who were already guaranteed top spot, and the German side took second place in the group to relegate Braga to the Conference League. Disappointment for Braga, who in the previous three seasons had always made it past the group stage in the Europa League and reached the quarter-finals last season.

Qarabağ are the only one of the seven that Fiorentina has previously played in European competition. In the 2016/17 Europa League we were drawn together in the group stage, and Paulo Sousa’s Viola side topped the group winning both games against the Azerbaijan club. That included a 5-1 win in Florence, and Qarabağ ended up in third place and out of the tournament.

The club, now based in Baku, has dominated the domestic scene in recent years, winning eight of the last nine league titles. All of this success has come under manager Gurban Gurbanov, in charge at the club since 2008. This season the club lead the championship again, having won all 11 of their games so far. This is the club’s tenth consecutive season in European competition, and they started off the current campaign in the Champions League.

Qarabağ came through three qualifying rounds, seeing off Lech Poznań of Poland, FC Zurich, and Ferencváros from Hungary. This took them as far as the play-off round to make the group stage, something they’ve only managed once, back in 2017. It proved a step too far yet again, as they lost out to Czech club Viktoria Plzeň. They then dropped to the Europa League and were drawn in a group alongside SC Freiburg of Germany, French club Nantes, and Olympiacos of Greece.

They began the group with defeat in Germany but followed it up with two 3-0 wins over both Nantes and Olympiacos. Two draws and a defeat, to Nantes, saw them end the group in third place, one point behind the French side. It was another French side who put an end to their European adventure last season. Qarabağ had finished runners-up to Basel in their Conference League group and were then knocked out by Marseille in the knockout round play-offs. They’ll be hoping to make it past the same stage this time out.

Ludogorets are currently second in the Bulgarian league, five points behind CSKA Sofia, but they do have two games in hand. They won the league title last season with a 21 point gap over CSKA, their tenth consecutive league title. It’s been a remarkable climb for the club, founded back in 1945 but who only won promotion to the top division in 2011. This came after the club was taken over by Bulgarian billionaire Kiril Domuschiev, winning the league title in their debut season in the top tier, and winning every league title since.

This success has seen them compete in the Champions League for the past 11 seasons, reaching the group stage on two occasions. It has also seen them as regular participants in the Europa League. This season they won their first two qualifying rounds in the Champions League, before bowing out to Dinamo Zagreb. They then needed to come through a play-off, defeating Lithuanian side Žalgiris, to reach the group stage of the Europa League.

Here they were placed in a tough group with Roma, Real Betis, and HJK Helsinki. They started off with a home win over Roma, but then lost 3-2 away to Betis, a game in which Joaquin scored for the Spanish side. They then recorded a win and a draw against the Finnish club before again losing narrowly to Betis.

This set up a last day clash with Roma at the Olimpico, with the sides level on points, where a draw would have been enough for Ludogorets to take second place in the group. The Bulgarians looked like they might pull off the shock when they went in 1-0 up at the break, but three unanswered goals for Mourinho’s side saw Roma advance and Ludogorets drop to the Conference League.

Bodø/Glimt are another side to have defeated Roma in recent times only to end up knocked out by the Serie A side. In last season’s Conference League the sides met in Group C, where the Norwegian club humiliated Roma 6-1 and they then drew 2-2 when they met at the Stadio Olimpico. Despite going undefeated through the group, Bodø finished as runners-up to Roma which meant they needed to go through the knockout play-off round.

Here, they easily dispatched Celtic, winning 5-1 on aggregate, before also overcoming AZ Alkmaar in the last sixteen. This set up a quarter-final clash with Roma, and Bodø/Glimt won the first leg at home as they proved a real thorn in Mourinho’s side. That 2-1 win wasn’t enough though, as they then lost 4-0 in the Italian capital as Roma went on to win the trophy.

This season, Bodø/Glimt currently lie in second place in the league, and with just two games left in the Norwegian season they won’t be retaining their league title. With an 18 point gap to leaders and new champions Molde, Bodø/Glimt will be looking to secure second place and they currently have a one point lead over Rosenberg. They began the season in the Champions League and came through three qualifying rounds, which included an 8-0 win over Northern Ireland’s Linfield, having lost the first leg 1-0 in Belfast.

A play-off gave them the chance to reach the group stage of the Champions League for the first time ever, but after winning the first leg 1-0 against Dinamo Zagreb, a 2-1 score line after 90 minutes in the return leg forced the tie to extra-time where Dinamo scored a further two goals. Dropping down to the Europa League, they were drawn in Group A along with Arsenal, PSV, and Zurich. Here, they only managed one win and a draw and scraped home in third place just one point ahead of Zurich, to allow them enter the Conference League.

Sheriff Tiraspol are looking to win their eight consecutive Moldovan league title. They currently lead the table after 13 games, with a six point gap back to Petroclub in second place, where Sheriff recently lost their only league game to date. Last season they reached the Champions League group stage for the first time ever, the only club from Moldova to do so. They faced a stiff task in a group which contained Real Madrid, Inter, and Shakhtar Donetsk.

They began the group with two wins, including a shock victory away to Real, before suffering two 3-1 defeats to Inter. They finished the group in third place which gave them access to the knockout stages of the Europa League, but they lost to Braga after penalties. This season, after coming through the first two qualifying rounds in the Champions League, they were knocked out by Viktoria Plzeň.

They then came through a play-off to make the Europa League group stage where they were drawn with Manchester United, Real Sociedad, and Omonia Nicosia. They lost all their games with the English and Spanish clubs, but their two wins over Omonia gave them a third place finish and a place in the Conference League.

Trabzonspor won the Turkish league title last season, their seventh win but their first since 1984. They were the first club from outside Istanbul to win the championship. This season, after 11 games, they lie in sixth place, five points behind league leaders Fenerbahçe, with Istanbul Başakşehir two points ahead in second place.

Last season, they were another club which Roma defeated on their way to winning the Conference League. Having defeated Molde, they were drawn with Roma in the play-off round to reach the group stage but lost 5-1 on aggregate. This season they started off in the Champions League but were knocked out in the play-offs by Copenhagen. In the Europa League they were drawn in a group with Monaco, Red Star Belgrade, and Ferencváros.

The Turkish side won all three home games in the group, but they also lost all three of their away games. This saw them finish in third place, just one point behind the top two of Ferencváros and Monaco. They do already have some silverware this season having opened the campaign with a win in the Turkish Super Cup.

AEK Larnaca are currently fourth in the Cyprus league, seven points behind leaders Pafos after nine games, and have lost three league games so far. The club have only been in existence since 1994 after the merger of two clubs, and have never won a league title, though they have been runners-up on five occasions including last season. This season saw them reach the Europa League group stage for the third time, although they began the season in the Champions League.

There, they lost out to Danish side FC Midtjylland in the second qualifying round. They then came through two rounds in the Europa League, beating Partizan Belgrade and Dnipro, to reach a group which included Dynamo Kyiv, Rennes, and Fenerbahçe.

They only managed one win which came away to Dynamo, in a game which was played in Poland. They also drew two games, against both Dynamo and Rennes which saw them finish third, seven points behind the French club in second place. Former Fiorentina defender Nenad Tomović has been at the club since last season.

At the end of the earlier game with Partizan, Tomović, a former Red Star Belgrade player, ran to the touchline and pushed over a local photographer. The player had been the victim of discriminatory chants from the home fans and is reported to have been insulted throughout the game by the photographer.

So, there we have it, one of these seven will be Fiorentina’s next opponents in the Europa Conference League. Tune in on Monday to find out who stands in our way of a place in the last sixteen.