Athletic Bilbao to be tested in Europa League qualifiers

Athletic Bilbao celebrate winning the Spanish Super Cup at the Nou Camp. (AFP) Source: AFP

Athletic Bilbao will have to cut its Supercopa de Espana celebrations short as it returns to competitive action against Zilina in the UEFA Europa League on Friday morning (AEST).

Ernesto Valverde's side denied Barcelona's sextuple hopes as the midweek 1-1 draw at Camp Nou rounded off a 5-1 aggregate triumph – securing the Basque club's first trophy in 31 years.

While that kind of achievement would often spark lengthy celebrations, they will need to be curtailed at San Mames as Athletic travels to Slovakia for the first leg of its play-off clash.

Morale will also be high in the Borussia Dortmund squad ahead of its first-leg meeting with Odd, Thomas Tuchel's side arriving in Norway off the back of a 4-0 win over Borussia Monchengladbach in the Bundesliga.

After its disappointing campaign last season, the signs are already looking brighter for Dortmund, and it will hope to have enough firepower to overcome Odd - who have already played six games in this season's competition.

Southampton's first European adventure in 12 years continues with the visit of Midtjylland to St Mary's Stadium, while Fenerbahce's array of superstars will hope to avoid a repeat of their Champions League disappointment.

Despite adding Robin van Persie and Nani to its squad during the close-season, the Turkish side was knocked out of the third round by Shakhtar Donetsk, dropping it into a Europa League tie with Atromitos.

Former European Cup winners Ajax and Steaua Bucharest suffered a similar fate to Fener and will look to keep their European dreams alive with ties against Rosenborg and Jablonec respectively – Steaua looking for a joint record fifth win in the play-offs.

Czech trio Sparta Prague, Slovan Liberec and Viktoria Plzen face Thun, Hajduk Split and Vojvodina respectively, while Romanian outfit Astra Giurgiu hosts AZ.

Austrian champion Red Bull Salzburg makes the trip to Belarus to face Dinamo Minsk, while Belenenses is the next side in front of European debutant Rheindorf Altach.

The two remaining Azerbaijan representatives Qabala and Qarabag both have tough play-off ties ahead of them, against Young Boys and Panathinaikos respectively.

HJK travels to Krasnodar, Legia Warsaw meets Zorya of Ukraine, Lech Poznan welcomes Videton and Rubin Kazan faces a trip to Macedonia against Rabotnicki.

Brondby travels to PAOK, Molde hosts Standard Liege and Milsami continues its European adventure against Ligue 1's Saint-Etienne, the Moldovans another side to slip into the Europa League after Champions League defeat.

The final tie of the round sees Kairat Almaty face Bordeaux, with the Kazakh side the first to make the 5974-kilometre trip – the furthest distance travelled in the competition.

Source Omnisport