Hibernian and FC Luzern: Who are Aston Villa’s potential Europa opponents? Key players, stadium capacity and cost of flights
Aston Villa now know their possible opponents in their UEFA Conference League qualifier.
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Unai Emery’s men turned their season around last term, securing a seventh-place finish. But seventh place doesn’t mean automatic qualification for the Conference League, and Villa now know they will have to beat either Hibernian or FC Luzern to reach the group stage of the main competition. The draw was made on Monday for the last round of qualifiers.
Here we run you through everything you need to know about Villa’s possible rivals Hibernian and FC Luzern.
FC Luzern history and European participation
FC Luzern, nicknamed Die Leuchten (The Lights), were founded in August 1901 and have won the Swiss Super League once in that time - back in 1988/99. They are three times winners of the Swiss Cup (1960, 1992 and 2021).
They have featured in European competition fairly consistently over the past 10-12 years, but have never reached the group stages of any tournament, with their best ever finish in that time coming in 2012 when they lost in the play-off round of the Europa League qualifiers against Genk. Scottish football fans may remember them from the 2014/15 Europa League qualifiers where they were narrowly beaten by St Johnstone - drawing 1-1 with the Perth side home and away and then losing on penalties.
Notable current players include former Schalke 04, Crystal Palace and Germany international Max Meyer as well as Czech full back Martin Frydek and Switzerland international midfielder Ardon Jashari.
Hibernian history and European participation
Hibernian, or Hibs, are much more familiar to Villa, given they are based in Scotland.
The 148-year-old club are based in Edinburgh, and they are coming off a fifth-year finish last season, under the guidance of Lee Johnson. Hibs have won the Scottish top division title four times, last taking gold in 1952, while they last won the Scottish Cup in 2016. They have never managed European success, usually exiting European competition at the qualifying stage including an exit in the third qualifying round of this competition in the 2021/22 season.
Their key players this season include: Martin Boyle (Australia international, skillful winger), Elie Youan (striker, France youth international), Will Fish (defender on loan from Man Utd) and David Marshall (veteran keeper, formerly of Norwich City, Cardiff City, Derby County)
Where do FC Luzern play? Stadium location and capacity
FC Luzern play at the Swissporarena in the city of Lucerne. The stadium has a capacity of 17,000 spectators and is also occasionally used to host matches for the Switzerland men’s national side - most recently a FIFA World Cup qualifier against Bulgaria in 2021.
Lucerne is classed as the most populous city in central Switzerland and the main language spoken there is German. Handball and Ice Hockey are among the most popular sports in the area outside of football.
Where do Hibernian play? Stadium location and capacity
Hibernian play at Easter Road, which has a capacity of 20,421. Naturally, the stadium is based in Edinburgh, and in the Leith area specifically.
The stadium is pretty central in relation to the city, just a nine minute drive from the main train station.
How to get to Lucerne
Villa fans travelling to the match can fly directly from Birmingham to Zurich, and then it is just a 45 minute road trip to the city of Lucerne. As of Monday, August 7, flights are coming in at £251 with Swiss travelling the day before the game and returning a day later.
How to get to Edinburgh
There are a couple of options for Edinburgh. EasyJet have flights at £107 flying the morning of the game and returning the following day. Meanwhile, trains are coming in at around £150 currently, travelling on the morning of the game and returning the following day.
Villa v Hibs/Luzern fixture dates and play-off round draw
Villa’s Conference League qualifying first leg will take place on August 24, with the second leg taking place on August 31.