Hearts to face either Linfield or FC Zurich in Europa League play-off round

Hearts have been drawn against either Linfield or FC Zurich in the play-off round of the Europa League.

By Craig Fowler
Tuesday, 2nd August 2022, 12:13 pm
Updated Tuesday, 2nd August 2022, 12:49 pm

Robbie Neilson’s side will learn their opponent on Thursday, August 11 after both legs of the third qualifying round have been played. The first leg takes place this coming Thursday in Belfast.

The first leg of the Europa League play-off, expected to be an away tie for the Tynecastle side, will take place on Thursday, August 18 with the return leg coming in Edinburgh seven days later.

The winner will advance to the group stages of Europe’s secondary competition, while the losers will be handed the consolation prize of a place in the groups of the Europa Conference League.

Hearts learned their Europa League play-off opponents on Tuesday afternoon. Picture: SNS

Zurich are the current Swiss League champions but have started off this campaign slowly, losing twice and drawing the other without scoring a goal to currently sit bottom of the table. They lost to Qarabag in the second qualifying round of the Champions League 5-4 on aggregate. Ex-Jambo Donis Avdijaj joined them this summer.

Linfield are the four-time reigning champions of the Irish League. They are managed by former Northern Ireland international and Rangers striker David Healy. Ex-Hibs boss Pat Fenlon is their general manager. They were knocked out of Champions League qualifying by Bodo/Glimt, who overturned a 1-0 first-leg loss with an 8-1 thumping in Norway.

Hearts qualified for European football as a result of finishing third in the cinch Premiership last season. They received the benefits reserved for Scottish Cup winners after making the final and losing to Rangers, who had already qualified for the Champions League as a result of their second-place finish.

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