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Wolves' Europa League qualifers explained

By Tim Spiers | Wolves | Published: | Last Updated:

Wolves have qualified for the Europa League after Manchester City smashed Watford for six in the FA Cup final.

The road to Gdansk begins in July

City's 6-0 shellacking of the Hornets means Nuno Espirito Santo's team will enter the Europa League at the second qualifying stage next season.

They'll need to get past three two-legged ties if they're to reach the 48-team group stage, which runs from September to December.

Europa League games all take place on Thursday nights and Wolves' games will be broadcast live on BT Sport, which has the UK rights to the competition.

But how do the qualifiers work? And who might Wolves play? We break down the key facts and dates here.

Qualifiers

All the qualifying rounds before the group stage see teams split into seeded and unseeded teams, based on the 2019 UEFA club coefficients. They are two-legged ties played home and away.

Wolves are likely to be seeded for their initial ties, as Burnley were last year.

After a small preliminary round the Europa League qualifiers start in late July with the first qualifying round, which Wolves won't take part in.

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Some 94 teams, mostly including minnows from far-flung European destinations such as Macedonia, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Iceland and Finland as well as sides from Ireland and Northern Ireland, will take part.

Tantalisingly for those who know their Wolves history, if Honved finish third in the Hungarian league (they're two points behind with one game remaining) they'll be the first round.

A few more established teams such as Rangers and Malmo will also compete in the first round, which takes place on July 11 and 18.

The second qualifying round is where Wolves enter the competition and takes place on July 25 (five days after Wolves play their final game in the Asia Trophy in China) and August 1.

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All the winners from the first round join a host of new teams and the competition is split into two separates sections – "Champions Path" (for all the league champions and a host of clubs who lose in Champions League qualifiers) and "League Path" (for cup winners and league non-champions, such as Wolves).

The draw of the 94 teams takes place on June 19, before round one, meaning Wolves won't know their opponents until that first round has been completed just a week before (July 18).

As well as Wolves, eams joining the draw at this stage include this year's semi-finalists Eintracht Frankfurt (who finished seventh in the Bundesliga), Spanish side Espanyol (seventh in La Liga), Sparta Prague and Dutch side AZ. As Wolves will likely be seeded they should avoid these well-established sides.

If Wolves triumph over two legs they will move to the third qualifying round. There will be 72 teams and the draw takes place on July 22, before the second round takes place. The third round ties are on August 8 (on the eve of the Premier League season which starts on August 10) and August 15.

Teams joining the "League Path" at this stage will include Feyenoord, Braga and AEK Athens but, again, Wolves will likely be seeded.

Finally, there is a play-off round, which is for 26 League Path winners from the third round (this is Wolves' part of the draw) and a further 16 in the Champions Path.

The seeded draw is on August 5 and the ties take place on August 22 and 29.

Should Wolves progress through all three rounds they will join the Europa League group stage, which runs from September 19 to December 12 (draw on August 30).

This is 12 groups of four teams, with sides playing each other home and away in a round robin format. Again, it's drawn based on seeding pots.

This is where some of Europe's big boys join the competitions. Manchester United, Arsenal (if they don't win this year's Europa League), Sevilla, Wolfsburg, Lazio, Sporting Lisbon, Rennes and Borussia Mönchengladbach are confirmed to take part, while Roma will also join at this stage if they finish fifth in Serie A.

A number of Champions League qualifier losers also go into the Europa League group stage.

Then after that, the top two teams in each group go through to the last-32 knockout stage, but let's not get too far ahead of ourselves.

Then again, it would be rude to not point out that next season's Europa League final takes place in Gdansk, Poland on May 27, 2020.

Key dates

Second qualifying round draw – June 19

Third qualifying round draw – July 22

Second qualifying round – July 25/August 1

Play-off round draw – August 5

Third qualifying round – August 8/August 15

Play-off round – August 22/August 29

Group stage draw – August 30

Group stage – September 19 – December 12

Tim Spiers

By Tim Spiers
@tim_spiers_Star

Writes about Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club for a living

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