Last week saw our Europa League group stage fate determined as we were drawn against PSV Eindhoven, Bodo/Glimt and FC Zurich.
While we have come up against PSV before in European competition, our visits to Norway and Switzerland will be against new names but both teams ended last season as champions in their respective nations.
Here you can find out more about what lies in wait for us when our involvement gets underway in September.
One of the Netherlands’ biggest clubs, PSV have won 24 Eredivisie titles as well as both the European Cup (1987/88) and UEFA Cup (1977/78). They have appeared in Europe in every season since 1975/76, meaning this will be their 49th straight campaign doing so.
A second-place league finish, ending two points behind Ajax, saw them reach the Champions League qualifiers, however after beating Monaco, they were eliminated at the final hurdle by Rangers 2-1 on aggregate.
Last season also saw them reach the quarter-finals of the Europa Conference League, where they again fell to another British side in Leicester City, but they did win the Dutch Cup after coming from behind to beat Ajax 2-1
We have faced PSV in competitive action on six occasions, all coming in Champions League ties. In 2002/03, goals from Gilberto Silva, Freddie Ljungberg and a Thierry Henry brace secured a 4-0 win in Eindhoven, before a 0-0 draw at Highbury in the group stages; the same stage that we faced each other in 2004/05 when an own goal secured us a home win before a 1-1 draw in Holland, when Lauren and Patrick Vieira both received red cards.
Our most recent meetings came in 2006/07 when we were drawn together in the round of 16. PSV won the first leg 1-0 at home, before securing a 1-1 draw at Emirates Stadium after Alex scored at both ends to eliminate us from the competition.
They play at the 36,500-capacity Philips Stadion, and are currently managed by Ruud van Nistelrooy, who is new in the post after replacing Benfica-bound Roger Schmidt this summer. It is his first job at first-team level, having previously coached PSV’s youth teams and been a part of the Dutch national team’s set-up.
The club is based in Bodo, one of the world’s northernmost towns which is 200m north of the Arctic Circle, and are enjoying the greatest period in their 105-year history since winning promotion in 2017.
In that time they have finished runners-up in 2019, before winning back-to-back league titles to add to their solitary other success back in 1993. Last season, they capped a glorious campaign by reaching the Europa Conference League quarter-finals, where they were eliminated by eventual winners Roma, who’d they thrashed 6-1 in the group stage - the first time a Jose Mourinho side had conceded six goals.
Their current success has come with Kjetil Knutson at the helm, who has been in charge since 2018 and has been named the country’s Coach of the Year for the past three seasons.
They find themselves in the Europa League this season after being eliminated from the Champions League qualifiers by Dinamo Zagreb in the final play-off round. Before then, they had beaten KI Klaksvig of the Faroe Islands 4-3 on aggregate, overturning a 1-0 first leg defeat into an 8-1 aggregate win over Linfield before cruising past Lithuanian side Zalgiris.
They play at the Aspmyra Stadion, which holds 8.270 spectators. The club is hoping to build a new 10,000-seater stadium to mark Bodo being named European Capital of Culture for 2024, with the aim of making it the most sustainable stadium in the world.
The club’s supporters are known to bring a giant yellow toothbrush to their games, a tradition that started after the item was used by fans to conduct singing in the stands. For many years visiting teams have received a yellow toothbrush ahead of matches.
Having recovered from a surprise relegation in 2017, FC Zurich have turned their fortunes around and claimed their 13th Swiss title last season by a 14-point margin, which was their first success in 13 seasons.
They have also won 10 domestic cups, and have reached the semi-finals of the European Cup on two occasions back in 1964 and 1977. They featured in the group stage of the Champions League back in 2009/10, and this will be a fifth appearance in the Europa League group stage since then, with their most recent coming in 2018/19 when they reached the round of 32 before being beaten by Napoli.
Like our other two group opponents, they also fell out of the Champions League qualifiers, albeit in the second round when they were defeated by Qarabag on penalties. They then dispatched Linfield and Hearts to book their spot in the Europa League group stage.
Their home is the Letzigrund, a 26,104 capacity venue that hosts both FC Zurich and their local rivals Grasshopper and was built for use in Euro 2008.
Despite last season’s success, manager Andre Breitenreiter departed in the summer for Hoffenheim after just a solitary season in charge, and was replaced by Franco Foda.
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