Motherwell were the first Scottish team to play in the Europa League (and also the last to compete in the old UEFA Cup) when they started season 2008/9 with an early July start against Llanelli having qualified via the fair play route. That first game was lost but Jim Gannon’s charges made no mistake in the second leg and ties with Flamutari and Steaua Bucharest followed. The home legs took place in Airdrie to allow the Fir Park pitch’s reconstruction time to complete.Motherwell v Dortmund 1994
In all we have a record of four wins and three losses in this competition. Briedablik and Aalesunds were dispatched in 2009/10 before Odense ended that season’s run. Motherwell fans recognise that there is a very slim chance of us reaching the lucrative group stage. The seeding system ensures that we are heavily outgunned by the 3rd qualifying round, even more so in the 4th qualifying round yet participation is still seen as a badge of honour.
A 6th place finish in 2010/11 meant no European adventure in the following season but normal service was resumed last year when Levante came to town after our short lived sortie in the Champions League.
A realistic view of these games is that we use them as the final stage in our preparation for the upcoming league campaign and for the most part they have served well. It’s a bit different on this occasion. The timing of the games against FC Kuban and the almost 3,000 miles journey for the second leg will not offer the pre-match routine that the manager would prefer before Aberdeen come to Fir Park for the SPFL Premiership fixture.
On Thursday Motherwell fans will have the opportunity to see how we match up against a largely unknown team from Russia. It is a spectacular way to start the season, let's hope for a big crowd and a result that gives us something to fight for when we go to Krasnodar next week.
Motherwell's European games - here.