Europa League: Kilmarnock & Aberdeen begin campaigns

Kilmarnock v Aberdeen

Kilmarnock and Aberdeen begin their Europa League campaigns on Thursday after finishing third and fourth in the Scottish Premiership respectively.

Angelo Alessio's first game in charge of the Ayrshire side - their first European tie since 2001 - is in north Wales against Connah's Quay Nomads (19:00 BST).

And Aberdeen begin against Lapland-based side RoPS of Finland (19:45) at Pittodrie in their sixth consecutive season in continental competition.

Both will be hopeful of advancing from the first qualifying round, but tougher tests await if they are to navigate four ties and reach the group stage.

What the managers say

Kilmarnock manager Angelo Alessio: "It's exciting to start a new season. We have not had time to watch a lot of games but we are ready to play our football. We have good professional players and for this reason I am sure we will show a good performance. Tomorrow will be very tough. We have done our homework."

Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes: "It's far more difficult now for us or any Scottish team. It's not not achievable, but we need to make sure we do all we can to get into group stages. Money's tight. We're building the stadium, but we've put together a squad this season without spending a penny on transfer fees. It would help, for us, if we could go and earn £2-3m."

Team news

Goalkeeper Joe Lewis will lead out Aberdeen as captain following Graeme Shinnie's summer departure to Derby County. Craig Bryson, Curtis Main and Ryan Hedges could make their competitive debuts for the Dons.

New Killie goalkeeper Laurentiu Branescu is competing with experienced Jamie MacDonald for the starting slot in Wales while midfielder Mohamed El Makrini could make his debut for the Ayrshire side.

'Connah's Quay will stand toe-to-toe'

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Europa League: Nomads will go ‘toe-to-toe’ with anyone, says boss Andy Morrison

Connah's Quay Nomads' Scottish-born manager Andy Morrison says they do not fear Kilmarnock. The runners-up in both the Welsh Premier and Welsh Cup last season will be embarking on their fourth European campaign and have achieved notable wins over Stabaek of Norway and Finnish side HJK Helsinki.

"If it comes down to a war, we'll stand to-to-toe with anyone, anywhere," Morrison said. "We don't fear that at all. Kilmarnock are a better football team than us and that's the only way they will beat us."

'RoPS' familiar faces and star left-back'

RoPS captain and goalkeeper Antonio Reguero - now 37 - had spells at four different clubs in Scotland - Kilmarnock, Hibernian, Ross County and Inverness Caledonian Thistle. And defender Mohamadou Sissoko was a League Cup winner with Kilmarnock in 2012 during a three-year stint at Rugby Park.

Left-back Taye Taiwo has no experience of Scottish football but is RoPS' star man after making almost 300 appearances for Marseille before spending two years with AC Milan. The former Nigeria defender played at the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.

Who started Kilmarnock's last European game?

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Can you name Aberdeen's European scorers?

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