Europa League Returns to Ireland Pt. II

So it’s to the third round of qualifying for the competition! Two more tie wins and the Europa League Group Stage beckons for these sides. St. Pats, who overcame IBV are playing, but first it’s to Sligo Rovers’ opposition, Spartak Trnava! This preview can also be seen here and was written by BOIP’s very own Alan Finn!

Name:FC Spartak Trnava
Stadium: Štadión Antona Malatinského (18,448)
Manager: Pavel Hoftych
Captain: Miroslav Karhan
Colours: Black and Red Stripes
Nickname: Bíli andeli (White Angels)

Based in a city 47 kilometers west of capital Bratislava, TSS Trvana were formed in 1923 after the merge of local clubs Šk Čechie and ČšŠk.

Trnava won their first major trophy, the Czechoslovakia Cup, in 1951, now under the name TJ Kovosmalt Trnava after being affiliated with a metal industry when the club went through a communist takeover.

Trnava would have to wait until 1967 for their next major trophy, but their Czechoslovakia and Mitropa Cup double triumph would prove to be the beginning of a Golden Era for the club. They had also since undergone another name change, now known as Spartak Trnava, a name which they have kept to this day.

They went on to dominate the Czechoslovakian First League, winning it in 1968, 1969, 1971, 1972 and 1973 as well as two more Cups in 1971 and 1975.  Most notably during this time, they reached the European Cup Quarter-Finals, losing over two legs to Derby County in 1973 and going out on penalties against Ujpesti Dosza of Hungary in 1974.

In the post-Golden Era for Trnava, League and Cup success has been scarce. Their last Cup Final victory came in 1998 when they won the Slovak Cup, while the closest they have come to winning the League has been as a runner up on three occasions in 1996-97, 1997-98 and 2011-12.

Spartak have also failed to shine on the European stage like they did in the early 1970s, losing to teams such as FC Wit Georgia and FC Inter Baku of Azerbaijan in recent years, but they came close to reaching the group stages of the Europa League last season, but they lost 3-1 on aggregate in the play-offs against Russian side Lokomotiv Moscow.

Their current squad is generally experienced, with many of the players in their late 20s and 30s and a handful of which have also played for the Slovakia national team, including Marek Kaščák, Mário Bicák, Ľuboš Hanzel  and most notably veteran midfielder and captain Miroslav Karhan who earned 107 caps between 1995 and 2011.

The club currently play in the Štadión Antona Malatinského, a ground named after famous Czechoslovakian player and manager Anton Malatinsky, who had a long affiliation with the club having played with them for ten years between 1941 and 1951 as well as three spells as manager, most notably guiding them through much of their Golden Era.

Now it’s to my preview of St. Pat’s’ Third Round Opposition, Bosnian side Široki Brijeg!

The Bosnian side finished second in the league last season and were leading at the mid-point. They’ve won the national championship seven times since 1994 and captured the domestic cup once, in 2007. The club’s best known player is probably Mario Hergovic, who played regularly than Wolfsburg, Hajduk Split and Dinamo Zagreb. Široki Brijeg (Translation ‘Big Hill’) is a small town (Only 26,500 population) which lies on the east of Bosnia & Herzegovina, close to the Croatian border, and the club has benefitted from a number of Croatian players. One of these is Vedran Jese, who made two appearances for the Croatian national side. Široki have gotten as far as the 1st round of the UEFA Cup twice, but were beaten by Slavia Prague and FC Basel.

This will not be an easy game for Liam Buckley’s men!

I think Pats again will have enough to see off the challenge of Široki, who don’t boast a whole lot of talent in their side and have almost unrecognised front players. Pat’s will feel their way into the competition against IBV and then use their summer season as an advantage against a Bosnian side of around the same level, then hopefully they will get a good draw in the 3rd qualifying round.

Prediction: Pat’s to win 3-2 on aggregate

Founded: 1948
Stadium: Pecara Stadium (8,000)
Manager: Marijan Bloudek
Colours: Blue and partially white


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