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Europa unfortunate in Djurgarden defeat

Europa were knocked out of Europe tonight after a narrow 2-1 away loss to Djurgarden of Sweden, with a saved penalty, a red card and the woodwork coming back to hurt the visitors.

Photo (C) C Correa Photography

Europa were not well fancied in the betting going into the game, but proved to be a match for the Swedish champions, and Rafael Escobar’s side had a great chance to go ahead from the spot just before half time – however Liam Walker’s penalty was saved well, and Djurgarden went up the other end to score through Curtis Edwards.

The setback did not deter the visitors though, and they got their reward in the 57th minute. A defensive mix up at the back by Djurgarden left Adrian Gallardo with an empty net to finish into and get his side back into it. Europa were to fall down to 10 men soon after though with Alex Quillo picking up two bookings in four minutes.

Europa kept on fighting, but would go behind to a penalty from former Burnley midfielder Fredrik Ulvestad. The woodwork would then go on to deny Europa a second equaliser, and later chances for Walker, Gallardo, and 18-year-old Gibraltarian Mitch Gibson, a surprise inclusion onto the field of play near the end, could not be converted as Europa lost in the narrowest of circumstances.

The final statistics, of 9 shots each team told the story of a tight match, which on another day, Europa may have been able to win – they will likely take confidence from the performance though going into the domestic season.

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Djurgardens v Europa: Match Preview

The second part of today’s Europa League double-header involving local sides sees Europa in Sweden, as they take on Djurgardens at the Tele2 Arena in Stockholm.

Photo © C Correa Photography

Europa, who moved into the Europa League after defeat to Red Star Belgrade, take on the Swedish champions, who lost at the same stage to Hungarian champions Ferencvaros, in what should be another tough encounter for Rafael Escobar’s side, who haven’t had the luck of the draw so to speak with the teams they have drawn out – the winner of this has to play CFR Cluj in the next round.

Europa’s most recent visit to Sweden saw them lose 1-0 to AIK back in 2016, and they will be hoping that this time out may be more joyful – they won’t be aided by the fact the hosts, who have two Head Coaches in Kim Bergstrand and Thomas Lagerlof, are 19 games into the Allsvenskan season, which started in June – they sit fifth in the league though which for last season’s champions is not ideal.

Before the game, Bergstrand spoke about the ball-skill and good organisation of Europa, noting they only went behind to Red Star initially due to an offside goal. He also noted that while his team should be able to hurt Europa, they also have to respect them. Liam Walker, Europa’s captain, spoke to FG yesterday ahead of the game, which you can read here.

Squad News:

Europa’s squad has been bolstered by the return of Ethan Jolley, as well as the arrival of new signing Kwadwo Poku – the pair would be expected to start at the Tele2 Arena this evening. They will be without Ibrahim Ayew and Blas Alvarez though, who have not travelled with the team to Stockholm.

For the hosts, they are confirmed to be without Erik Berg, Jesper Nyholm, Emmanuel Banda, Nicklas Bärkroth and Alexander Abrahamsson, according to their official website. One player that may catch the eye is English midfielder Curtis Edwards, who played both legs for fellow Swedish side Ostersund against Arsenal in their historic Europa League run of 2017/18. The Swedish side also have midfielder Kevin Walker – the Swedish/Irish 31-year-old won the 2013 Swedish Pop Idol, singing alongside Robbie Williams in the final.

Betting:

The hosts understandably go into this game as massive favourites, with 1/20 the best price you can get on them winning in 90 minutes. Europa are 45/1 to cause a big shock, while the draw in 90 minutes is 14/1. The handicap line is set at 3, with Europa 13/10 on +3. Meanwhile, if you do fancy Djurgardens to win but Europa to score, that is currently 11/4.

FG’s Predicted XI’s:

Djurgardens – Bratvelt; Witry, Une Larsson, Kack, Augustinsson; Ulvestad, Karlstrom; Eriksson, Edwards, Ring; Chilufya

Europa – Munoz;Jolley, Olmo, Carrascal, Olivero; Walker, Rosa, Badr, Becerra; Juampe, Gallardo

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Walker: “We are all in a positive mindset”

FG caught up with Europa captain Liam Walker ahead of their Europa League tie with Swedish side Djurgårdens IF Fotboll tomorrow.

We asked Liam how preparation has gone for tomorrow’s game, “Preparations have gone as well as we can, as we all know the COVID situation so we have to adapt but it has been good.”

Liam gave us an insight into the mood among the team going into the game, “The mood around the team is good, we have a great group of players and we are all here for the same thing and that it is a success, so we are all in a positive mindset and are ready for tomorrow.”

Europa made four signings in their build-up to the defeat against Red Star last month but also lost some big players like Dayle Coleing and Manu Dimas – we asked Walker how the new signings have settled in, “The new players have settled in great, you would think they have been around for ages, but since day one they have integrated into the group fantastically and as well they are great players so the signings have been positive for us.”

Lastly, we asked Liam what he hopes to achieve for the upcoming season – “As every season I want to win everything, that’s my aim, but we know we are up against other good teams so we will go as we always have and we will take each game as it comes and play every game like its a last.”

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What next for Europa?

With Europa yet to announce a replacement for Dayle Coleing and only 5 senior HGP’s at Rafael Escobar’s dispense – we take a look at some replacements which the Greens might want to consider.

1 – Matt Cafer (Romford)

A deal which we understand to be almost complete, Cafer will be returning to Europa after leaving the club in 2017. The Gibraltar international goalkeeper will be hoping to put his past behind him and a move to the Greens would be the perfect opportunity to throw his name back into the mix for Julio’s future squads.

Seeing as Jamie Robba signed a new contract with St Joseph’s in the summer and Jaylan Hankins is opting for Cordoba, Cafer would be the ideal choice.

2 – Andrew Hernandez (St Joseph’s)

An unlikely move with Pishu still having a year or two left on his contract at Saints but one which would be useful for Escobar. It’s still unclear what plans Procopio has for Pishu but the midfielder turned defender would be good competition at full-back for Ethan Jolley.

The recent signing of Erin Barnett in defence means that St Joseph’s are covered in case Pishu does depart for Europa, with Saints expected again to use the minimum HGP’s required in domestic matches.

3 – Ethan Britto (Lincoln Red Imps)

A name which will definitely raise some eyebrows and rustle feathers but a move for Ethan would be a major stamp-point, seeing as Lincoln are reportedly close to signing Tjay. He is expected to play regularly but the question is for how long? With Joseph Chipolina coming back from injury (which we don’t expect to be any time soon) and Tjay’s signing – we fail to see how Ethan will play a starting role in William’s team.

With Alain Pons becoming a regular figure in the St Joseph’s eleven, Ethan will need to be playing regularly if he wants to keep his starting place at International level.

4 – Ethan Santos (Mons Calpe)

It was noticeable in the defeat to Red Star that Europa are a little short on numbers defensively (only two recognised defenders started vs the Serbian champions), and Santos, who has played across the backline for Mons, could prove to be a good option in terms of adding depth to the club for the upcoming season.

While the 21-year-old is unlikely to immediately break up the pairing of Olmo and Sergio Sanchez in the middle of the back-line, he would still be a useful signing which could offer a longer-term use to Europa in terms of meeting HGP requirements, with the potential of the defender developing and becoming a part of Julio Ribas national squad down the line.

5 – Reece Styche (Buxton FC)

Since returning to the national fold, Reece Styche has proven himself to be a handy option, offering something different to the national team, and the same would apply to Europa, with the striker a different kind of striker to what Europa have used in previous seasons.

A potential stumbling block for this deal would be that the striker only joined Buxton earlier this summer, but with time running out before the rumoured season start, Europa may be able to offer a package that suits both Styche and his current employers.

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Lincoln draw Rangers while Europa travel to Sweden

Scottish giants Rangers will play in Gibraltar for a second consecutive year, this time against Lincoln Red Imps while Europa faces a tricky away trip to Djurgårdens IF Fotboll of Sweden – we got the reaction of the respective captains Roy Chipolina and Liam Walker on the draw.

Wins over Prishtina and Union Titus Pétange have set up a mouth-watering encounter against Steven Gerrard’s side Rangers. The Victoria Stadium will be familiar territory for the Scottish giants who beat St Joseph’s 4-0 in last season’s campaign.

Lincoln captain Roy Chipolina gave us his reaction to the draw, “It’s fantastic for Lincoln and Gibraltar football. To draw the mighty Rangers is very exciting and the kind of team that you dream to play against. We know how tough of an opposition they are and I guess its another David and Goliath fixture.”

After beating knocked out in the preliminaries of the Champions League by Red Star Belgrade, Europa faces another tricky trip in the second qualifying round of the Europa League when they take on Djurgårdens IF Fotboll of Sweden. A tough draw but a great experience nonetheless and playing in the great Tele2 Arena.

Europa captain Liam Walker had this to say on the draw, “It’s another tough team that we have been drawn against but we will prepare to go there and try to get the win.”

Both games will be one-leg and take place on the 17th September.

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Europa and Lincoln to find out Europa League fate today

Europa and Lincoln will both learn their Europa League opponents for next month’s Second Qualifying Round, in today’s draw at 1pm.

Photo (C) C Correa Photography

Europa, who lost in the Champions League to Red Star Belgrade, drop into the Champions Path of the Europa League draw, and their potential opponents, who all followed them out of the Champions League, are: Djurgarden (Sweden), Flora Tallinn (Estonia), Riga (Latvia), KR (Iceland) and Tre Fiori (San Marino).

Meanwhile, in the Main Path, Lincoln, who qualified after a 2-0 win last week vs Union Titus Petange, are set for a big draw, with their three potential opponents being: Stade de Reims (France), Rio Ave (Portugal) and Rangers (Scotland).

The draw takes place on UEFA.com at 1pm today, and the one-legged matches are set to take place behind closed doors on the 17th September.

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Europa unbeaten run ends in Serbia

Europa’s 397-day unbeaten run came to an end at the hands of FK Crvena zvezda as the Serbian champions won 5-0 to progress into the next round of the UEFA Champions League.

El Fardou Mohamed Ben Nabouhane ‘Ben’ scored a double in the first half, despite looking offside for his first, to give Red Star a commanding lead at the break. Europa had a few half-chances with Juanlu’s effort going straight to the Red Star keeper and a shot from Adrian Gallardo which went over the crossbar.

Seven minutes into the second half and Ben got his hat-trick to give Red Star a three-goal lead. Liam Walker started to test Milan Borjan as Europa looked to try and grab themselves a goal.

Mirko Ivanic’s brace made it 5-0 and secured Red Star a comfortable progression into the next round of the Champions League while Europa drops into the Europa League.

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Red Star Belgrade v Europa: Match Preview

Europa get their season underway with a very tough away match at former European Cup winners, Red Star Belgrade, this evening in Serbia.

Photo © C Correa Photography

Europa, who qualified for the Champions League for the first time since 2017, travelled to Belgrade knowing a victory would go down as one of the biggest upsets in the history of local football and arguably even European football – especially given they haven’t played competitively since March, while Red Star have already got their new season underway and have won all of their four league matches this season.

Europa also appear to have a few players missing from their squad, most notably in defence. Full-back duo Ethan Jolley and Ibrahim Ayew do not appear to have travelled with the squad, while centre-back Sergio Sanchez was sent off in Europa’s last European match, a 3-0 defeat at Legia Warsaw last season, and presumably is suspended – meaning 25-year-old local defender Stefan Moreno could potentially make his debut for the first team, or manager Rafa Escobar may use some of his midfield players as makeshift defenders.

In goal, the departure of Dayle Coleing to Glentoran this week means it is likely either Javi Munoz, or new signing Emilio, will take the gloves in goal, while the only other notable absentee appears to be new signing Kwadwo Poku, who also hasn’t appeared to have travelled.

As for tonight’s hosts, they come in off the back of a 3-2 victory on the weekend in the Serbian Super Liga, and Comoros international El Fardou Mohamed Ben Nabouhane, who scored twice in that win, is expected to start up front tonight – the 31-year-old has a decent return of 47 goals in 87 games for his side, including goals in Europe vs the likes of Red Bull Salzburg and Napoli in the 2018/19 season. Former Real Betis and Swansea midfielder Jose Canas does not appear to be in their squad tonight, but regardless they clearly have a strong squad who will be expected by their passionate fanbase to win comfortably tonight.

Betting:

It will come as no surprise that Red Star are overwhelming favourites to win tonight at a best price of 1/25. Meanwhile, Europa are as high as 80/1 to pull off a shock upset and win. If you at least fancy both teams to score in the match, that is a best price of 13/5, while if you think Red Star will win comfortably, you back them -4 on the handicap at best price 11/5.

FG’s Predicted Lineups:

Red Star – Borjan; Rodic, Dejenek, Gajic, Pankov; Katai, Vulic, Petrovic; Nikolic, Tomane, Ben

Europa – Munoz; Badr, Olmo, Quillo, Olivero; Walker, Rosa, Carrascal, Alvarez, Juampe; Gallardo

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Coleing move to Glentoran set to be confirmed this week

Europa and Gibraltar keeper Dayle Coleing will this week be signing for Northern Irish side Glentoran, for a transfer fee believed to be £50,000.

Photo © Naps

The 23-year-old, who joined Europa in 2018, firmly established himself as his club’s number 1 last season, while also making his international debut last September against Denmark, and the keeper now makes the move to the Northern Irish Premier Division, to join Glentoran on what is believed to be a 3-year contract.

Coleing will be signing in time for Glentoran’s Europa League campaign, where they were drawn against Faroese side HB Torshavn – the then 17-year-old Coleing was on the bench for former team Lincoln for both legs against the same opposition back in 2014.

Europa are believed to have moved quickly and have already lined up a replacement for the goalkeeper, in time for their Champions League campaign where they face a tough away tie against former European Champions Red Star Belgrade next week.

Coleing joins Colin Ramirez in the list of Gibraltarians to have played for the Glens, as they are nicknamed, and also joins a growing list of young Gibraltarians now plying their trade outside of the Rock.

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Coleing attracting interest from outside of Gibraltar

Europa and Gibraltar goalkeeper Dayle Coleing is believed to be attracting interest from teams in Northern Ireland, Spain’s Segunda B Division and potentially elsewhere outside of Gibraltar.

Photo © C Correa Photography

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