Hibs likely to be seeded in Europa League tie

Hibs boss Neil Lennon
Hibs boss Neil Lennon
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Hibs’ first competitive match of the 2018/19 season will be a Europa League tie after Celtic’s victory in the Scottish Cup final clinched continental football for the Easter Road side.

Celtic defeated Motherwell 2-0 in Saturday’s final and because they have already qualified for the Champions League due to winning the SPFL Premiership, the Europa League spot allocated to the Scottish Cup winners goes to the fourth-placed team in the league.

Hibs head coach Neil Lennon guided his men to fourth in the Premiership in their first season back in the top-flight of Scottish football following relegation in 2014 and can now celebrate being back in Europe.

The Capital club enter the Europa League at the first qualifying round stage and are likely to be seeded, although that will not be confirmed until all the participants are known.

Hibs have a UEFA coefficient of 3.725 – the same as Rangers, who enter the tournament at the same stage, while second-qualifying round entrants Aberdeen are rated at 4.000 – and will hope to be seeded as to avoid teams such as Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv and Norwegian side Molde, who are the highest ranked teams in the first qualifying round.

However, if Hibs are to make it into the second qualifying round, they are odds-on to be unseeded and could face teams such as Spanish giants Sevilla, Turkish heavyweights Besiktas and English Premier League outfit Burnley.

The match dates for the first qualifying round are Thursday, July 12 and Thursday, July 19, and the second qualifying round dates are Thursday, July 26 and Thursday, 
August 3, although these can be brought forward by 24 hours if two teams from the same city are due to play at home on the same evening.

Hibs will find out their Europa League opponents on Friday, June 19, when the draw is made in the Swiss town of Nyon for both the first and second qualifying round.

The Easter Road side’s last match in the competition was a narrow defeat by Danish side Brondby in 2016. After losing the first leg 1-0 at home, they won the return in Copenhagen by the same scoreline, but lost out on penalties.

Their participation in the Europa League means that Hibs receive a bye for the Betfred Cup group stages. They will enter that tournament in the second-round stage on Saturday, August 18 and will be seeded.