All you need to know about upcoming Europa League qualifying opponents FK Kukesi.
VfL Wolfsburg are the first German club to take to the European stage in 2020/21, and with that in mind we take a closer look at Thursday’s opponents, who finished as runners-up in Albania last season. This will be the first time FK Kukesi have faced a Bundesliga side in a competitive match. Yet despite the fact they have never qualified for the first round proper of a European competition, they do have considerable experience in continental action. We round up all the facts and figures ahead of VfL’s upcoming encounter in the second round of UEFA Europa League qualifying:
Kukesi finished second in Albania’s top flight in their first season following promotion in 2012. They have remained one of the country’s best teams ever since, recording their greatest success to date by lifting the title in 2017.
Be it as domestic champions, runners-up or cup winners, the Albanians have reached the qualifying rounds of the Europa League or Champions League (in 2017/18 and 2018/19) for the last eight years - but have never managed to progress to the group stage of either competition.
Only once have Kukesi advanced as far as the Europa League play-offs, where they lost 2-0 and 3-1 to Trabzonspor in 2013/14.
Thursday’s hosts have a German player with Kosovan roots in their squad: midfielder Vesel Limaj was born in Freising (near Munich) and played in Ulm, Berlin and Cottbus as a youngster before joining his current employers in 2018 from an Albanian second-division side.
Kukesi beat Bulgarian team Slavia Sofia 2-1 in the first Europa League qualifying round on 27 August.