Europa take on Welsh Champions The New Saints (TNS) in the Champions League this week, so we take a brief look at the team standing in the way of Europa at the first hurdle.
When were they founded – TNS first started in 1959 as Llansantffraid FC, who eventually joined with Oswestry Town.
I recognise them by a different name? – The New Saints were formerly known as Total Network Solutions, following a deal with an Oswestry-based computer networking specialist. The team garnered a lot of public awareness when Soccer Saturday presenter Jeff Stelling famously stated: “They’ll be dancing in the streets of Total Network Solutions tonight!”
Do they have European pedigree? – They have consistently qualified for Europe in the 21st century, most notably taking on then European champions Liverpool in the 05-06 qualifiers. They’ve either reached, or started in the Second Qualifying Round of the Champions League for each of the last five seasons.
Their stadium is not in Wales though? – TNS stadium, Park Hall, is actually based in Oswestry, a town in England just 8km away from the Welsh border – the equivalent of Europa playing in San Roque in terms of distance.
How did they do in the league last season? – They comfortably won the Welsh Premier by some 27 points, losing just three of 32 league matches and racking up over 100 goals in the process.
What players should we look out for? – One-time New Zealand international Greg Draper, as well as Alex Darlington, were the clubs two best goal threats in the league.
Random fact – TNS’ Polish winger Adrian Cieślewicz played his brother Lukasz at this stage in 2015, with TNS defeating Faroese side B36 Torshavn.