The draw for the 2013-2014 Europa League play-off round was held this morning in Nyon, Switzerland and resulted in Tottenham Hotspur drawing Georgian club Dinamo Tbilisi.
One might wonder why a club like Tottenham that finished just one measly point away from Champions League qualification needs to play a play-off series to get into the Europa League. It's because the automatic Europa group stage qualification went to the winners of the FA Cup, which last season happened to be Wigan. Who are now in the Championship. Europa League rules are dumb.
Uncle Menno, you say, what can you tell me about Dinamo Tbilisi? Well, gentle reader, not that much, since I don't watch nearly enough former Soviet republic football, clearly. Dinamo were the champions of the Georgian Umaglese Liga last season. They also won the Georgian Cup last season, which is the FA Cup equivalent in Georgian football. Most of their players are either Georgian or Russian and have such names as Givi Kvaratskhelia, Irakli Dzaria, and Levan Khmaladze. However, some of you might recognize Spanish striker Xisco, who is playing out the final years of his career in Tbilisi and who led the team in scoring last season with 24 goals.
Spurs actually have a history against Dinamo Tbilisi, having played them in the 1973-74 UEFA Cup when Tbilisi was still a part of the USSR. Spurs drew at Dinamo 1-1 and won the home match 5-1 to progress.
Dinamo probably shouldn't put up too much of an obstacle against Spurs in this play-off, but they're not a team to completely overlook, either. And I'm certain nobody's looking forward to a trip to the Republic of Georgia for the away leg of this qualification series. I'm sure the players are wondering why they couldn't have drawn a team from somewhere warmer or closer to home.
Edit: The away leg will take place on August 22 and the home leg on August 29 (before the North London Derby).
The first leg of the play-off vs FC Dinamo Tbilisi (away) is scheduled for the 22nd August while the second leg is at home on 29th August.— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) August 9, 2013