As the domestic Pepsi League chugs along in a state of relative stasis, the top four Icelandic teams of last year have begun their qualifying campaigns for the two European competitions.
As last year’s winners, Valur had the chance to qualify for the highest tier of European football—The Champions League. Their path to the finals began with a two-leg tie against Slovenian side Maribor. The away game ended in a 3-0 drubbing, setting up Valur for a heroic comeback in the home game. However, they entirely failed to pull a Cool Runnings, and slumped to a 0-2 defeat, exiting the competition no sooner than they had arrived.
This embarrassingly meek double-defeat wasn’t the end of their European hopes—they now get to slum it in the second tier of European football along with the Pepsi League 2018-19 runners-up Stjarnan, Breiðablik and KR.
The Europa League qualification battle is not going well for the Icelandic teams either. League leaders KR were trounced 7-1 by Norwegian hardly-a-superclub Molde, with the home leg ending in a 0-0 draw to seal their fate. Breiðablik were taken down 2-1 over two legs by Swiss nobodies FC Vaduz. Stjarnan were smashed 4-0 by Espanyol.
So it’s down to Valur to save Iceland’s blushes with their second swing at Europe. Their first leg game against Bulgarian minnows PFC Ludogorets Razgrad ended 1-1, and tomorrow, the away game take place—and we’ll know if Iceland’s top four had their clocks cleaned in Europe without notching up a win between them—or if Valur managed to become the Jamaican bobsled team of Europe after all.
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