The Lowdown On The LOI Clubs' European Opponents

The Lowdown On The LOI Clubs' European Opponents
By Colman Stanley Updated

Three League of Ireland sides will be kicking off this Thursday in Europe. Shamrock Rovers face off against Shkupi in the first-leg of their Europa League third round qualifying tie, while Europa Conference League third round qualifying will see the first legs of Sligo Rovers vs Viking FK, and St. Patrick's Athletic vs CSKA Sofia.

The latter two fixtures bring an enhanced buzz with them given the nature of their second-round wins; St. Pat's with an epic penalty shootout victory over the much favoured Mura, and Sligo Rovers with an emphatic 3-0 takedown of SPFL side Motherwell.

Shamrock Rovers come into their game off the back of a 4-2 aggregate loss to Ludogorets in their Champions League qualifier, and despite being in the tougher competition to Sligo and St. Pats, they look the likeliest to go through.

KF Shkupi

Shamrock Rovers face off against Shkupi at 20:00 on Thursday, in Tallaght Stadium.

Shkupi are the reigning North Macedonian Champions, and like Rovers, were knocked out of the second round of Champions League qualifiers, losing 3-2 to Dinamo Zagreb.

Paddy Power have Shamrock Rovers as 29/20 favourites, with Shkupi at 9/5.

The draw would seem to suit the Irish side, and if they can get a lead in Tallaght, they may be able to avoid any unnecessary risks away from home.

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The winners will meet the loser of the Champions League qualifying match between Ferencvaros (Hungary) and Qarabag (Azerbaijan). Should Rovers lose they will drop into the Europa Conference League play-off round, and face the winners of FC Ballkani (Kosovo) vs KI (Faroe Islands).

26 July 2022; Rory Gaffney of Shamrock Rovers in action against Olivier Verdon of Ludogorets during the UEFA Champions League 2022-23 Second Qualifying Round Second Leg match between Shamrock Rovers and Ludogorets at Tallaght Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Viking FK

Sligo Rovers meet Viking FK at 18:00 on Thursday, at the Viking Stadion in Stavanger.

Viking finished third in Norway's top league, the Eliteserien, last season, and they currently lie in 5th after 17 games of the 2022 league.

They come into the game off the back of an impressive 2-1 aggregate win over Sparta Prague in round two, and are 2/5 favourites to win on Thursday and 1/6 to make it to the next phase.

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The winner will proceed to the Europa Conference League play-off round and face the victor of DAC Dunajská Streda (Slovakia) vs FCSB (Romania).

READ MORE: Europa Conference League : Sligo's Motherwell Victory Featured Some Fabulous Shithousing

READ MORE: Europa Conference League : 'Humiliated' Scottish Media Reaction After Motherwell Eliminated By Sligo Rovers

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CSKA Sofia

St. Patrick's Athletic kick-off against Sofia at 18:00 Thursday, at the Stadion Balgarska Armia.

Bulgarian side Sofia made it through their second round clash with a 4-0 victory over two-legs against North Macedonian side Makedonija Gjorče Petrov.

They finished second behind Ludogorets in last season's Bulgarian First League, and are currently second and level on points behind Ludogorets in this year's competition.

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St. Pats are 5/1 underdogs for the game and 31/20 to go through, while Sofia are at 4/9 and 9/20. However, Shamrock Rovers' home result against Ludogorets bodes well for their chances.

The winner face either Brondby (Denmark) or FC Basel (Switzerland) in the play-off round.

6 August 2009; Marco Malachias, right ,CSKA Sofia, celebrates after scoring his side's first goal with team-mate Ivan Ivanov. Europa League, 3rd Round Qualifier, 2nd leg, Derry City v CSKA Sofia, Brandywell, Derry. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

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