Hearts v FC Zurich: TV channel; kick-off time; team news; form guide; odds
and live on Freeview channel 276
Swiss champions FC Zurich are the guests for the second leg of the Europa League play-off tie and arrive in Edinburgh with a 2-1 lead from the first leg held in a rain-soaked St Gallen on Thursday.
It is the biggest game for Hearts at Tynecastle since they defeated Aberdeen in 2006 to clinch second spot behind Celtic in the league and with it qualification for the Champions League qualifying rounds.
Qualification for the Europa League raises the prospect of glamour matches against some of Europe’s and the financial rewards that come with it.
There is a safety net if Hearts don’t get through, however. They would drop into the group stage of the Conference League, UEFA’s third competition. The draw for both competitions is on Friday.
Thursday’s match is a sell-out with the remaining tickets snapped up over the weekend. Here is all the you need to know:
Who: Hearts v FC Zurich
What: Europa League play-off second leg
Where: Tynecastle Park
When: Thursday, August 25. Kick-off 8pm
TV and ticket info
It was confirmed on Sportscene on Sunday that BBC Scotland will broadcast the game live once more. Coverage begins at 7.45pm. Tickets are sold out.
Robbie Neilson has already revealed that the biggest doubt for Hearts is centre-back Craig Halkett. He limped out early in the first-leg with a hamstring injury, ending the night on crutches. Craig Gordon and Stephen Kingsley were left out of the squad for the Premiership clash with Celtic on Sunday but both should be available.
Zurich made ten changes for their cup tie on Sunday, which they won 4-0, ahead of Thursday’s second-leg. Centre-back Karol Mets was the only player to retain his place in the starting XI, so they will be rested and refreshed.
Zurich’s poor form is well documented. The Swiss champions were knocked out of the Champions League in the qualifying round by Qarabag of Azerbaijan before sweeping aside Linfield of Northern Ireland to reach this stage of the Europa League. They sit bottom of the table with only two points from five games but have won their last two matches – last week’s first leg against Hearts and Sunday's 4-0 Swiss Cup triumph away at third division club SC Cham.
Last week Hearts took the lead through a Lawrence Shankland penalty before conceding twice in a matter of minutes around the half-hour mark. Craig Gordon made a couple of big saves and it finished 2-1 to Zurich.
This will be the first time Hearts host Swiss opposition since Lausanne–Sport in the 1963/64 Fairs Cup. Hearts won against Basel in 2004 but it took place in Switzerland in what was a five-team UEFA Cup group.
Referee Lawrence Visser is Belgian, he took charge of Sheriff Tiraspol's famous 2-1 win against Real Madrid in Spain last year. Still only 32, also reffed Scotland's 1-0 win against Moldova in the World Cup qualifiers last September. He's never taken charge of a match involving a Scottish club.
McBookie make Hearts favourites to win on the night, but favour FC Zurich to win the tie overall. Hearts are 11/8, with the draw 11/5 and the Swiss visitors priced at 9/5 to win on the night. Punters can get 21/10 on Hearts going through, with Zurich favourites on 1/3.