In case you missed it, 102 teams (!) gathered to contest the first round of the Europa League; like all the rounds, it was played over two legs. The first couple of rounds are an exercise in your knowledge of European geography, for the most part, (I find stamp collecting as a kid helps greatly with these sorts of things) but there were a couple of famous clubs in it. Aberdeen drew 1-1 away to a team from Macedonia I won't even try to spell, and won the home leg; West Ham United defeated Lusitanos of Andorra 3-0. They've both made it to the third round now.
Athletic Bilbao entered the competition at this stage, and defeated Inter Baku, from Azerbaijan. Nicknamed "the Bankers", apparently, which is not the most popular moniker around Europe these days. Just ask the Greeks.
The 29 winners of the Europa League's third qualifying round, including Southampton, Athletic Bilbao, and Borussia Dortmund (but not West Ham United, who lost today) and the 15 losers of the Champions League third qualifying round play off in the "playoff round"; these CL losers included Fenerbahce, Ajax Amsterdam, and Red Bull Salzburg.
The 22 playoff round winners will join 16 clubs which enter at this stage (including Villarreal), and the 10 losers of the Champions League playoff round--which could include clubs such as Valencia, Manchester United, and Bayer Leverkusen, but more likely teams like Astana-- to make up 38 teams drawn into 12 groups of four. Villarreal will be a first seed, and our first match in the EL will be September 17.
Jeremy Perbet's Istanbul Basaksehir club unfortunately have gone out, so too Marcos Gullon and Apollon Limassol, and Zurich lost in extra time to Dinamo Minsk, so (Gladbach being in the CL) we can't face any of last year's group opponents again in the group stage this time.
The draw for the playoff rounds in both competitions is tomorrow; you can follow it here. Spanish interest will focus on Valencia, who will be drawn against one of CSKA Moscow, Club Brugge, Lazio, Monaco, or Rapid Vienna.