The list of Cliftonville’s potential opponents in the First Qualifying Round of next season’s Europa League will be finalised this weekend – and everything hinges on the fate of former foes Debrecen.
The Reds were eliminated from the Champions League in 2014 by the Hungarian kingpins and could be set for a repeat showdown with the men from the Nagyerdei Stadion depending on results on the final day of the Nemzeti Bajnoksag campaign on Saturday.
Debrecen are one of three sides jostling for Hungary’s final European position and, should they book their place, they will be Seeded for next month’s draw at UEFA Headquarters in Nyon. If, however, they are usurped by either Honved or Paks, the final Seeded berth would be awarded to Rudar of Slovenia.
Loki – as Debrecen are known by their fans – are currently in pole position to qualify but face the toughest test of all three competing sides. They travel to third-placed Ujpest, who have already secured their place in the draw and who will be keen to ensure their visitors do not leapfrog them in the standings.
Paks will be away to a mid-table Puskas Akademia outfit whose own European ambitions fell by the wayside last week, while Honved – level on points with Debrecen and two ahead of Paks – host a Vasas team that must win to stand any chance of avoiding relegation.
A Debrecen victory will guarantee they assume the one remaining First Qualifying Round place, but anything other than three points means they will be hoping that both Paks and Honved slip up. Should either of the duo edge past Loki, Hungary’s final representatives will be Unseeded, meaning that Rudar (who finished fourth in the Slovenian PrvaLiga) will join the list of Cliftonville’s possible July opposition.
Confused? Fear not because our dedicated Europa League guide details everything in straightforward fashion, ensuring you’re kept fully up to speed with all the latest developments pertaining to the draw, which is just 20 days away.