ABERDEEN will be heading to Sweden as they prepare to face Hacken in the second qualifying round of the inaugural edition of the Europa Conference League.

With the Gothenburg-based side currently rooted to the bottom of the Allsvenskan, the Dons have been given a relatively favourable draw. Hacken have usually finished in and around the top five or six clubs in the top flight over the last few campaigns but a poor start this term has seen the Wasps collect just one win from their opening eight fixtures.

There will be the added pressure of facing a team already up to match fitness – the league calendar in Sweden runs from April to December – but Stephen Glass and Co will be encouraged by Hacken’s faltering form of late.

It’s quite the turnaround for the team that secured third place last term. It was only in May, in their final outing before club football was halted for a month in the Scandinavian state, that Hacken lost the Swedish Cup final on penalties to Hammarby, narrowly missing out on lifting the trophy for the third time in six years. They will return to league duty at the start of July.

Despite their poor start on the domestic front this year, Hacken are no strangers to European football. The encouraging news for Aberdeen supporters, though, is that the Swedes have rarely performed well during the qualifiers. In their five appearances in the Europa League in the last decade, only once have they avoided falling down at the first hurdle – a 4-2 aggregate victory over Latvia’s Liepaja in 2018.

Left winger Leo Bengtsson is Hacken’s key player but like much of his team, he has struggled to his last season’s heights again this year. After providing nine goals and five assists in 29 outings in all competitions last term, the Sweden internationalist has registered just one goal in 14 appearances.

Hacken’s third-place finish in 2020 was built on their solid defensive foundations. No other top-flight Swedish club conceded fewer goals in the previous campaign but fans will be concerned that the backline has been leaky so far.

FORMED: 1940

STADIUM: Bravida Arena (6500)

HONOURS: Swedish Cup (2015/16, 2018/19)

MANAGER: Per-Mathias Hogmo

STAR MAN: Leo Bengtsson