Pittodrie boss Derek McInnes is upbeat about Aberdeen’s European bid despite landing a Battle of Britain tie against a side from the world’s richest league.
The Dons will face Premier League outfit Burnley in the Europa League second qualifying round.
There will be no enticing overseas trips for the Red Army… yet. Only a 341-mile trip to a side that regularly hold their own with world big hitters like Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United.
McInnes accepts it was one of the toughest possible draws the Reds could have landed so early in the tournament.
Against a side that finished seventh in the world’s biggest league, the Reds are underdogs – but every dog has its day.
McInnes is confident Aberdeen are capable of causing an upset which would silence critics of the Scottish game south of the border.
He said: “Burnley are a team that have beaten some of those top six sides in the English Premier League in recent seasons, home and away.
“They are from the English Premier League, the richest league in the world and the biggest.
“It brings us a real challenge but an exciting challenge none the less.
“You have seen in recent seasons Manchester United went on to win the Europa League (2017) and Arsenal got to the semi-finals last year.
“Burnley will be firm favourites, any team who plays in the English Premier League would be.
“They have to try and beat us and we will try to beat them and it will be competitive as you would expect.”
The first leg will be at Pittodrie on Thursday July 26 with the return leg at Turf Moor the following week.
Although competing in Europe for the first time in 51 years, the Clarets boast stars like Aaron Lennon, Phil Bardsley and Stephen Ward.
McInnes said: “This is a game where we will be up against household names.
“There are favourites in every tie and they’re seeded for a good reason.
“We know we’ll be big underdogs for this one but, rest assured, we’ll be doing all we possibly can to cause an upset.”
This will be the fourth time Aberdeen have faced an English top flight team in a Battle of Britain Euro clash.
They played Tottenham (1973), Liverpool (1980) and then Uefa Cup holders Ipswich Town (1981).
Aberdeen triumphed only once, against Ipswich.
The status of Scottish football has not so much dipped since the Eighties as fallen off the edge of a cliff.
Is this an opportunity to prove Scottish football is strong to any doubters south of the border?
McInnes said: “That argument always comes up when British teams play against each other.
“It has been quite rare as there have not been that many instances over the last 20 years.
“Any time you have the chance to promote our own club, whether that is by getting results in Europe or doing well domestically, we always try to take that chance.”
Aberdeen landed the Clarets in a draw that was delayed three times at the Uefa headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.
It was initially due to start at 1pm, then, 1.20. It finally started at 1.45.
The Dons were in a pot where they could face Burnley, Atalanta (Italy), AZ Alkmaar (Holland), Glenavon (Northern Ireland), Molde (Norway), Zalgiris Vilnius (Lithuania) or a potential preliminary round winner.
“When we looked at the pot it was probably the toughest pot there was so we knew we would get a tough game,” said McInnes.
“Burnley were the toughest of the lot in that pot and we got them.
“As much as it is tough, it is exciting at the same time.”
McInnes is anticipating a sell-out Pittodrie for the visit of the Premier League outfit.
Tickets for the Red Army will also be at a premium for the clash at Burnley’s Turf Moor, which has a capacity of 22,546.
He said: “There will be a terrific atmosphere at Pittodrie and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a sell-out.”
“Battle of Britain a tough tie for Dons,” Page 28