Hibs in Europe: What Scottish Cup final defeat means for Easter Road side
Had Hibs won the 2020/21 Scottish Cup final, they would have qualified for the Europa League third qualifying round.
As runners-up following the side’s 1-0 defeat by St Johnstone, who take the Europa League spot, the Easter Road side will enter the new Europa Conference League at the second qualifying round stage, along with Aberdeen who finished fourth in the Scottish Premiership.
A recent development is confirmation that Hibs will be seeded for the draw, meaning they will avoid a clutch of top teams who are participating in the new competition.
A total of 110 teams are involved in the second qualifying round stage and although several clubs are still to be confirmed, there are a number of teams who have already qualified and have been designated seeds, or unseeded.
In all, 184 teams will be involved in the competition including at least one from each of the 55 associations and 46 clubs transferring from either the Champions League or Europa League.
Competing teams will be trying to qualify for the group stage which will feature eight groups of four, followed by knockout round play-offs, the round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals and final, which will take place on May 25, 2022 in Tirana, Albania.
When is the draw?
Hibs will find out their Europa Conference League opponents on June 16, 2021. The draw will take place at noon UK time at UEFA’s headquarters in the Swiss town of Nyon.
Will the draw be regionalised like it has in the past?
It’s possible. According to UEFA: “Any groupings or further restrictions will be confirmed ahead of the draw.”
When will Hibs be in action?
The Hibees will play their first Europa Conference League match on July 22, with the second leg on July 29. These dates could change in the event of teams from the same city being drawn at home at the same time. The draw for the third qualifying round will be made on July 19 so Hibs will know which teams they could face if they progress.
Who could Hibs face?
A lot of teams are still to be confirmed. A total of 15 losers from the first qualifying round of the Champions League will drop into the Conference League and be seeded, while three losers from the Champions League preliminary round will be added to the unseeded section.
At the time of writing, the winners of the cup competitions in Azerbaijan, Israel, Liechtenstein, Sweden, and Switzerland are still to be decided and will go into the unseeded section of the 2QR along with teams that have finished in the relevant place in their national league, such as the third-placed team in the Danish Superliga, fifth-placed team in the Czech First League, and the runners-up of the Israeli Premier League.
Confirmed unseeded teams include Dynamo Brest and Torpedo-BelAZ Zhodino of Belarus; BK Hacken and Elfsborg of Sweden; Norwegian side Valerenga; Dunajská Streda of Slovakia; Bulgarians Lokomotiv Plovdiv; Tobol and Shakhter Karagandy of Kazakhstan; Ofir Marciano’s former club FC Ashdod of Israel; Azerbaijani side Sumgayit; and Polish pair Raków Częstochowa and Pogoń Szczecin.
Any big-hitters Hibs will avoid?
Yes. Hibs will be joined by former European opponents AEK Athens and Molde on the seeded side of the second qualifying round along with clubs including Basel, Gent, Feyenoord, Rosenborg, CSKA Sofia, Hajduk Split and Osijek.
Should NK Maribor win their first qualifying round encounter, they too will be seeded.
Will Hibs be seeded for the third qualifying round if they progress?
At the time of writing, that is still to be decided.