If Aberdeen get past Rijeka in the third round of Europa League qualifying, a favorable draw await them in the play-off round.
Derek McInnes’ men will play either AEK Larnaca of Cyprus or Gent of Belgium in the penultimate round before the group stages, should they beat the Croatians.
That’s not to say both ties won’t be difficult, they will be. Despite this, these fixtures present the Dons with a favorable draw.
Aberdeen won’t get a better chance to make Europa League groups
Before Aberdeen focus on the play-off, they have plenty of tricky games to negotiate first.
Rijeka will prove tough opposition for the Dons. They have competed in Europe on 19 occasions and qualified for the Europa League group stage during the 2017/18 campaign.
McInnes obviously has happy memories of Rijeka after the Dons beat them 3-0 in Croatia last time they faced each other in Europe. They are a strong side though and will be out for revenge.
It’s not an impossible task though and the play-off round wouldn’t be either. Cypriot side Larnaca are in good form, having not tasted defeat in league competition since March at the time of writing.
Gent will be sturdy opposition, but only managed a fifth place finish in the Belgian top flight last year, having finished fourth the previous two campaigns.
Considering the Dons could have been matched against the likes of Espanyol and Feyenoord, this is arguably the best draw they could have hoped for.
Aberdeen have started well and will fancy their chances against anyone right now.
They won’t get many better opportunities to reach the Europa League group stages. They are equal or not far off their opponents quality wise. McInnes has to sense this and make sure Aberdeen go all out in pursuit of delivering a remarkable achievement.