Hearts in Europe

Hearts go into the UEFA cup group stages after a convinving 5-3 aggregate win over Portuguese outfit SC Braga. The draw was made on Tuesday morning in Switzerland gave Hearts a group which more resembles a Champions League group. Hearts were in the pot of fourth seeds, and this resulted in a few big names being drawn against them.
Here is the lowdown of how Hearts' opponents got to the group stages and their current form in their respective leagues.

Ferenecvaros Torna Club - Hungary. Beat Millwall 3-1 at home following a 1-1 draw in London. Currently after 8 games played, they have won 7 and drew 1 and are currently 3 points clear at the top of the Hungarian 1st division. Ferencvaros Won their last game 1-0 away to Vasas. This will be Hearts second home match, and last of the group games. This tie will be on either the 15th or 16th of December. (Here's hoping for an early xmas present!)

Feyenoord - Holland. Beat Odd Grenland 4-1 at Rotterdam after a 1-0 away win. Feyenoord are favorites to win the group. Not surprisingly really. They are currently second behind PSV in the Dutch 1st division. After 7 games played this season, they have won 5, drawn 1 and lost 1. In those 7 games however, Feyenoord have scored 22 goals and conceded 8. Whereas Hearts have only managed to score 4 goals and concede 3 this term so far. This test will be the opening match for Hearts which will be on Thursday 21st October.

F C Basle - Switzerland. Beat Terek Grozny 2-0 at home after being held to a 1-1 draw away. Basle have played 11 games so far in the Swiss league. They are currently topping the table on goal difference with FC Thun, both on 21 points. Basel have won 6, drawn 3 and lost 2 matches so far this season. This will take place in Switzerland on 25th of November.

Schalke 04 - Germany. Schalke won this very competition 2 years ago, and are one of the favorites to progress quite far in the tournament this year. They bullied their way into the group stages by hammering minnows FK Metalurgs 9-1 on aggregate. a 5-1 home win their seen them ease into the next phase. Schalke will visit Murrayfield as Hearts first home opponents. Hearts have a slight advantage that Schalke have yet to score away from home in their domestic league, and are the only Bundesliga team to do so. They are currently in 7th place, a full 9 points adrift of league leaders Wolfsburg. This game takes place on the 4th of November.

So there you have it. This is a VERY tough group for Hearts, but with all the off-field politics surrounding Hearts beginning to abate, Craig Levein and his men can concentrate on making it to the next round. No-one said it will be easy, but if Hearts believe in themselves, I believe the mighty Jam Tarts have what it takes to progress into the next stage of this tournament.

The bookies have already written Hearts' chances of progression off already. Some bookmakers are quoting prices of 20/1 to win the group, and 200/1 to win the UEFA cup outright. There is 3 automatic qualifying places up for grabs, I'd settle for 3rd place and a chance for Hearts to emulate the great UEFA cup run back in 1989 when they were knocked out on aggregate by the mighty Bayern Munich 2-1 at the quarter final stage. That was after a 1-0 first leg win.