Swiss champions FC Zurich will face Scottish outfit Hearts at Kybunpark in St Gallen for the first leg of their Europa League playoff on Thursday night.
FCZ secured safe passage through to this stage after beating Linfield over two legs, while the visitors will be taking part in their first European qualifier since the 2016-17 campaign.
FC Zurich have played nine competitive matches so far this season, but their only two victories came in the previous round of Europa League qualifying against Northern Irish side Linfield.
A 2-0 first-leg win in Belfast was followed by a comfortable 3-0 success in the reverse fixture last week, which saw Donis Avdijaj score a brace inside the first 25 minutes before Ivan Santini came off the bench to wrap up a 5-0 aggregate victory in the closing stages.
Franco Foda‘s men have struggled domestically, however, as the Swiss Super League champions have failed to win any of their opening five games, scoring only once and conceding 10 goals in the process.
A 1-1 draw away at newly-promoted Winterthur on Sunday has left FCZ bottom of the table and nine points behind leaders Young Boys, who beat them 4-0 on the opening weekend of the new campaign.
Zurich will be hoping for better success on Thursday against Hearts as they bid to move one step closer to reaching the Europa League group stage for the first time since the 2016-17 season.
After a successful pre-season over the summer, winning five and drawing one of their seven friendlies, Hearts have made an unbeaten start to the new Scottish Premiership season, claiming seven points from a possible nine available.
A 1-1 draw in the Edinburgh derby against Hibernian – a game which they were leading until the 95th minute – was sandwiched in between 2-1 and 4-1 victories over Ross County and Dundee United respectively.
Lawrence Shankland, Barrie McKay, Jorge Grant and Josh Ginnelly were all on the scoresheet in their comfortable win over the Tangerines last weekend, and that result helped them climb up to third in the table behind Glaswegian giants Celtic and Rangers.
Hearts will come up against the former in the top flight next weekend, but they must first turn their attention to the first leg of their Europa League qualifier against Zurich, with Robbie Neilson‘s side aiming to progress to the group stage for the first time in their history.
The Jam Tarts have reached the Europa League playoff round twice before back in 2011-12 and 2012-13, but they were beaten on both occasions by English giants Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur respectively.
FC Zurich currently have a clean bill of health so Foda will have a fully-fit squad to choose from on Thursday.
Striker Tosin Aiyegun was not involved in the matchday squad last weekend, however, with the reason for his absence currently unknown, and it remains to be seen whether he will feature against Hearts.
Foda may decide to make one change in centre-midfield, with Ole Selnaes potentially replacing 36-year-old Blerim Dzemaili who has recently recovered from injury.
Italy international Wilfried Gnonto could also return to the starting lineup at the expense of either Santini or Antonio Marchesano.
As for Hearts, Alex Cochrane and Craig Halkett both picked up injuries last weekend, but Neilson has revealed that he expects both players to be available for selection on Thursday.
Neilson is unlikely to make too many changes, if any, to his starting lineup, with a back four of Cochrane, Haklett, Kye Rowles and Michael Smith set to remain intact, shielding 39-year-old goalkeeper Craig Gordon.
Liam Boyce, who was the club’s top scorer last season with 16 strikes to his name, is set to provide support in attack for Shankland, while Alan Forrest and McKay could keep their places on the flanks.
FC Zurich possible starting lineup:
Brecher; Kamberi, Kryeziu, Aliti; Boranijasevic, Selnaes, Conde, Guerrero; Marchesano, Gnonto; Avdijaj
Hearts possible starting lineup:
Gordon; Smith, Rowles, Halkett, Cochrane; Grant, Haring; Forrest, Boyce, McKay; Shankland