The draw was made earlier today for the next qualifying round of the Europa League, and the Everton traveling contingent aren't going to get a very exotic destination for the third qualifying round where the Blues enter the competition.
The Toffees play at home first against the winners of MFK Ružomberok from Slovakia and SK Brann Bergen of Norway. The Norwegian team won the first leg last night away 1-0 and are in pole position in this tie.
Everton have played Brann before, in the 2008 UEFA Cup. The Blues won the away leg 2-0 before a 6-1 thumping at home including a Yakubu hattrick. They finished 2nd in the Norwegian Tippeligaen last season for the sixth time in their history, and have won the League three times, the most recently in 2007. There have been six Cup wins as well, and have finished runner-up nine times.
Ružomberok is a more unknown quantity, finishing third in Slovakia's Fortuna Liga last season. They have done the Slovak double once, in 2006, which remains their only League win.
Yakubu v SK Braan 2007/2008. pic.twitter.com/3E0RPrXhvK— evertonfcpics (@GoodisonPics) January 19, 2017
The second leg of the current qualifying round will be played on 20th July, while Everton’s games will be on 27th July and 4th August. Should Everton make it past that hurdle, there will be one more playoff round, featuring the 29 winners of the third qualifying round, plus the 15 losers from the 2017–18 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round.
Everton have returned from their East African jaunt where they beat Kenyan Premier League champions Gor Mahia 2-1 yesterday, with Wayne Rooney and Kieran Dowell getting excellent long-distance goals.
Everton's updated schedule for the next couple of months is a challenging one -
- Wed Jul 19 - Pre-season: vs FC Twente (A)
- Sat Jul 22 - Pre-season: vs KRC Genk (A)
- Thu Jul 27 - Europa League 3rd qualifying round: vs Ružomberok/Brann (H)
- Thu Aug 3 - Europa League 3rd qualifying round: vs Ružomberok/Brann (A)
- Sun Aug 6 - Pre-season: vs Sevilla (H)
- Sun Aug 13 - Premier League Matchday 1: vs Stoke City (H)
- Thu Aug 17 - Europa League Playoff round (1st leg) (TBD)
- Mon Aug 21 - Premier League Matchday 2: vs Manchester City (A)
- Thu Aug 24 - Europa League Playoff round (2nd leg) (TBD)
- Sat Aug 26 - Premier League Matchday 3: vs Chelsea (A)*
- Thu Aug 31 - Summer transfer window closes
- Sat Sep 9 - Premier League Matchday 4: vs Tottenham Hotspur (H)
- Thu Sep 14 - Europa League Group Stage Matchday 1 (TBD)
- Sun Sep 17 - Premier League Matchday 5: vs Manchester United (A)
- Wed Sep 20 - Carabao Cup 3rd round (TBD)
- Sat Sep 23 - Premier League Matchday 6: vs AFC Bournemouth (H)
- Sun Oct 1 - Premier League Matchday 7: vs Burnley (H)