Gibraltar teams in Europe 2017/18
FootyOn have gone through all the Gibraltar teams in Europe 2017/18, as Europa FC, Lincoln Red Imps and St Joseph’s aim to further enhance the tiny British territory’s reputation on the continent.
For the first time in Gibraltar’s history, they’ll be represented by three teams in the upcoming 2017/18 European competition qualifiers – one in the Champions League and two in the Europa League.
To put that into perspective and to show how far the nation – that has a population of just 30,000 – have come in since becoming a UEFA member in 2013, Scotland were allocated the same for next campaign. Though, Celtic will start in a qualifying round later than Europa FC in the CL.
Read on for our profile of Gibraltar teams in Europe 2017/18…
Europa aiming to emulate Lincoln
The newly-crowned Gibraltar champion Europa FC kick off their maiden campaign in Europe’s elite competition in first qualifying round against Welsh outfit The New Saints, and face them away on June 27 and ‘home’ (in Faro, Portugal) July 4 or 5.
They’ll be hoping to emulate Lincoln Red Imps, whose run of 14 straight titles they ended last term, after they got to the second qualifying stage last time out and even beat Celtic 1-0 on home soil – before losing the return leg 3-0.
Liam Walker was a key part of Lincoln’s surprise European runs the last two campaigns, which helped Gibraltar gain an extra Europa League place, as they saw off Andorran team Santa Coloma and Estonians Flora Tallinn in successive seasons.
— Europa FC (@EuropaFC_Gib) June 19, 2017
The former Portsmouth playmaker and Gibraltar international was integral to Europa’s Premier Division triumph in 2016/17 too, after signing for them last summer, and also helped them to two more domestic cups.
This time out, Europa are a very tasty 11/1 price with BetVictor to beat TNS in Wales, but a more likely 5/1 to take an important draw back for their home leg.
They can also be backed at 11/4 with betway to win or draw in the double chance market, for a safer bet.
If they come through that tie, Europa have a meeting with Croatian champions Rijeka to look forward to.
You can read more on Europa FC in our dedicated factfile of them after recently winning the Gibraltar Premier Division.
Red Imps face Cypriot side in maiden EL campaign
After finishing second by just one point last season, the Red Imps have had to settle for a place in Europa League qualifying this term for the first time.
With largely the same squad as their previous three campaigns in the Champions League, they may be able to go further in this competition.
Cypriot side AEK Larnaca, who also came second in their domestic league, are their first round opponents, and interestingly boast a squad largely made up of Spaniards, which will surely add fire to the occasion.
— Lincoln Red Imps FC (@LincolnRedImps) June 24, 2017
Lincoln have been productive in the transfer market this summer, adding Gibraltar internationals Anthony Hernandez (a former Middlesbrough triallist) and ex-Atletico Madrid youth defender Jason Pusey, among others.
The former Gibraltar champions, that boast star striker Lee Casciaro who spoke to us last year, are a huge 33/1 price with BetVictor to win on their travels in the first leg on June 29, or 9/1 with Paddy Power in the double chance betting.
Their return leg, also in Faro, Portugal – due to the territory’s Victoria Stadium not being up to UEFA standards – is on July 6.
They’ll be hoping to emulate Europa FC too, after they beat Armenian side Pyunik at this stage in the Europa League last year.
Lincoln would face one of Irish side Cork City Levadia Tallinn if they knock out Larnaca.
St Joseph’s handed Cypriot battle too
Meanwhile, St Joseph’s make their European debut this season, after finishing third and profiting from the above duo’s previous success.
They are the only Gibraltarian outfit playing at ‘home’ first, and take on another team from Cyprus, AEL Limassol, who finished fourth in their First Division.
Note 1st Leg to be played at home (Faro, Portugal) 29th June pic.twitter.com/Gtg4JthCXi
— St Joseph's FC (@StJosephsFCGib) June 20, 2017
But they have bolstered their ranks with the likes of left back Mane, who has played nearly 200 times in La Liga as well as having experience in European competition qualifiers, and ex-Philippines international striker Angel Guirado, who was once on the books of Atleti and Deportivo La Coruna.
St Joseph’s face AEL Limassol on June 29 and then July 6 in Cyprus.
One of Scottish giants Rangers or Progres Niederkorn await them if they get through.
Future is bright for football in Gibraltar
With all three Gibraltar teams in Europe 2017/18 facing higher profile opponents, it’ll be a tough ask for them to get through their opening ties.
But time and time again, football in Gibraltar has battled against the odds, and incredibly overcome them on numerous occasions.
While a place for a club in the group stages of either competition is a step too far at this point, it’ll be a great effort if one team can reach at least the third round of qualifying.
While they are unable to use their home ground this season in Europe, they have plans to make a complete redevelopment of their sporting facilities, which would further increase training quality, youth development and of course a UEFA approved stadium to host even international fixtures.
This all comes after Real Madrid legend Michel Salgado recently became involved in Gibraltar United, promising to use his connections and aid the club which would massively help football in Gibraltar on the whole.