By Ashley Cox

BARRY Town could be two wins from a dream showdown with Jose Mourinho's Tottenham Hotspur as the qualifying stages of the 2020-21 Europa League continue to take shape.

After securing European football with a 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace, Spurs will enter the Second Qualifying Round this September, pending the result of Saturday's FA Cup Final.

With finalists Chelsea having booked their place in next season's UEFA Champions League, victory for the Blues at Wembley this weekend would see Spurs bumped up to the Europa League's group stage, yet a 14th FA Cup for Arsenal would force their north London rivals to qualify, paving the way for a potential Barry vs Tottenham dream match on Thursday 17 September.

180 minutes of football could be all that separates the dream from becoming a reality, as Barry embark on a European campaign that begins in the Preliminary Round on Thursday 20 August and ideally continues to the First Qualifying Round, to be staged the following week.

With all qualifiers now reduced to one-off games behind-closed-doors, the truncated format of this 50th Europa League tournament could serve up some interesting outcomes, though Town manager Gavin Chesterfield will be laser-focused on his team's all-or-nothing Preliminary Round challenge, however much thoughts might wander to the big names waiting in the wings.

It has been 19 years since Barry progressed in Europe, a season that saw the second-leg scalp of a Porto team soon to hand Mourinho his managerial breakthrough.

Barry's path to Portuguese infamy went through Baku, Azerbaijan and another long-haul mission could be in store for today's squad, whose previous Europa League expedition came to a screeching halt last summer, in the relatively local surroundings of north Belfast.

On Monday, the club learned the last of the eight opponents it can be paired with in the 9 August Preliminary Round draw, with B36 Torshavn, HB Torshavn and NSI Runavik of the Faroe Islands, Santa Coloma and UE Engordany of Andorra, Lincoln Red Imps and St. Joseph's of Gibraltar and Tre Penne of San Marino completing the rundown of possible destinations.

The prospect of a return to Ireland was ultimately nixed when Coleraine and Cliftonville lost their respective Irish Cup semi-finals on penalties at Windsor Park.

As suggested in last week's Barry and District News, any home tie plucked from the proverbial velvet bag at UEFA HQ on 9 August will be played behind-closed-doors at the Cardiff City Stadium, the nearest footballing venue that ensures compliance with Covid-19 matchday regulations.

Despite the lack of supporters in the stands, officials at Jenner Park are currently exploring ways of making their 20 August matchday an event befitting the occasion and have promised announcements in due course.

In the meantime, fans shut out of the summer shoot-out might well raise a disbelieving smile at the thought of Harry Kane, Son Heung-Min and a host of Champions League finalists lining up against their local team; in a matter of weeks, no less.

Nevertheless, if the surreal landscape of 2020 has taught us anything, it is that matters we once took completely for granted can quickly be turned on their head.

Fantasy football? No way Jose.