Over the past few weeks Linfieldfc.com has recalled last year’s European encounters against Rosenborg, HB Torshavn, Sutjeska and Qarabag.
In the guest supporter article below, our correspondent takes a look at how those clubs have got on since those memorable games against this club last year.
QARABAG ON COURSE FOR CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GROUP STAGES
Azerbaijani champions Qarabag who pipped Linfield for a place in last season’s Europa League group stages on Away goals are on course to make the group stages of the Champions League this season.
They lifted their seventh league title in a row when they were declared champions last May due to Covid-19. At the time they held an eight-point lead having lost only one match in their league campaign.
Qarabag have qualified for the group stages of European competitions for the past six seasons and if they win their next two rounds it would be their second appearance in the Champions League groups.
In the first round they had a comfortable 4-0 home win over Macedonian champions Sileks and followed that with a 2-1 victory of Sheriff Tiraspol of Moldova. They have another home draw in the third round against Norwegian champions Molde who Glenavon beat in the first leg of their Europa League tie at Mourneview two seasons ago when the Norwegians were managed by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The winner of this tie will have a two-legged play-off for a place in the Champions League group stages against either Ferencvaros of Hungary who knocked out Celtic, or the Croation champions Dinamo Zagreb who beat the Blues in 2008.
Rosenborg who eliminated the Blues from the first round of the Champions League last season are also on course for the group stages of the Europa League. They had their worst league finish for around 20 years and only squeezed into the last European spot in 4th place after winning their last match of the season. The new Norwegian league season is well under way and Rosenborg are again in 4th place after 16 matches.
In their Europa League first round match last week they had a comfortable 4-2 victory over the Icelandic side Breioabik having been 4-0 up at half-time. They have been drawn away in the second round to the Latvian side Ventspils who the Blues beat in the EUFA Cup in 2005. The winner has a home tie in the third round against Alanyaspor of Turkey who are making their European debut.
HB Torshavn of the Faroe Islands who the Blues beat in the second round of the Europa League last season only qualified for this season’s Europa League by winning the Faroes Cup. They were beaten in the preliminary round by our East Belfast rivals Glentoran.
Meanwhile Sutjeska Niksic who Linfield beat in the third round last season were runners-up in last season’s Montenegrin league, finishing 18 points behind the declared champions Buducnost Podgorica. Sutjeska are already out of this season’s Europa League after losing 1-0 to the Bosnian side Borac Banja Luka.