Derry City drew the short straw in yesterday’s UEFA Europa League draw, when they were paired with Danish club Midtylland in the 1st qualifying round.
On paper it looks an extremely difficult tie, but when you analyse it they’re not the same team who reached the round of 32 in 2016, losing to Manchester United 6-3 on aggregate, having dropped down from the UEFA Champions League having lost to Cypriot club APOEL.
Most of that team have moved on, and Midtylland were lucky to even qualify for this year’s Europa League as they had to come through League play-offs.
They were knocked out in the play-off round in last year’s Europa League by Turkish club Osmanlispor 3-0 on aggregate.
They do possess a player of immense quality in midfielder Rafael van der Vaart. The former Dutch International played for Hamburg, Tottenham Hotspur, Real Madrid and Real Betis, and at 34 is in the twilight of his career.
You can check 10 of van der Vaart’s best goals here;
Their main attacking threat comes from Nigerian striker Ebere Paul Onuachu. He scored 19 goals last season in just 29 games. He’s a major threat in the air going by some of these goals;
Midtylland are managed by 47 year-old Jess Thorup, who previously managed the National teams U-21 side. The club play their matches in the 11,800 capacity MCH Arena.
Derry City’s Assistant Manager Hugh Harkin told us shortly after the draw, “Certainly not the draw that we had hoped for but that’s the way it goes. They were the second highest ranked team in the first round qualifiers, so it’s a huge challenge for us but we will go there without any fear.”
“It will be a great experience for our younger players and can only make them better so we will prepare properly and see where it takes us.”