A clean sheet for Tomer Chencinski, to go with the one from Iceland, will see Rovers into the second round.

Europa League Preview: Shamrock Rovers -v- Stjarnan
Published: July 06, 2017

SHAMROCK ROVERS

Up until last Thursday’s 1-0 win in Iceland, just twice down the years have Shamrock Rovers secured victory when playing away from home in the first leg of a European tie. In both instances, in Iceland in 1982 as well as Poland in 2003, Rovers went on to win the home game in the second leg.

 

Some good omens for the Hoops then as they go into the Europa League first qualifying round second leg against Reykjavik side Stjarnan with a 1-0 lead (kick-off 8pm, live on Eir Sport). The Hoops deservedly won the first leg last week and will have some confidence going into – Rovers are unbeaten in competitive action at home since St. Patrick’s Day.

 

If they can make it 11 games in that run after this Europa League qualifier, then Czech side Mlada Boleslav will await them in the next round.

 

“It's great to get a win away in Europe. They're hard to come by but it counts for nothing if we don't go and win tomorrow,” said Stephen Bradley reflecting on the victory on the 3G pitch in Iceland when speaking to shamrockrovers.ie on the eve of the second leg.

 

“We're a different team here in Tallaght. They'll see that tomorrow night with the crowd behind us and on a better pitch. We've got to go and respect them but at the same time we've got to go and try and win the game and if we do that I'm sure we'll create chances.

 

“The support in Iceland was brilliant, the same in Sligo and the same it's been all year. The players see that and they respond to that and I think you can sense that on the pitch. I know tomorrow will be a big crowd for us. I don't think Stjarnan fully know what to expect.

 

“As a group of players, a young group, to go and win away in Europe is massive for them and now for us as a club to go and win a tie, obviously financially it would help us massively.”

 

If Rovers can progress then the club will earn an additional €225,000 to go with the €215,000 they got for making the Europa League first qualifying round. The last time Rovers qualified for the second round was two years ago when, after a 0-0 away draw, they won the second leg 3-0 against Luxembourg side Progres Niederkorn (who knocked Glasgow Rangers out of Europe this week).

 

The Hoops travelled back directly after the game in Reykjavik, landing in Dublin early on Friday morning, and they travelled to Sligo on Sunday evening where they lost 1-0 in the league.

 

"I thought (in Sligo) we played well but started badly. In the first five minutes we got punished and we didn't take our chances. Overall, obviously disappointed to lose the game but a lot of positives to take from it and lots to build on.

 

“I felt we had enough recovery to come back (from Iceland) and play. The team is playing well and we had enough to win the game. I think people look for excuses, if you watch the game we had four or five chances to go and win it. We didn't score and on another day you score two or three of them and no one mentions anything about freshening up the squad.”

 

STJARNAN

The visitors won their first league game since the end of May last Sunday following the first leg defeat a week ago to Shamrock Rovers. They beat KR Reykjavik 3-2 with Hilmar Halldórsson scoring twice. Both times KR equalised before their captain Gudjon Baldvinsson scored a 94th minute winner for Stjarnan.

 

“Our game plan is very simple – we need to win the game,” said Stjarnan manager Rúnar Páll Sigmundsson about Thursday’s second leg against Rovers when speaking with RTÉ on the eve of the game. “We will do that with our toughness and our smartness.”

 

It is a big ask for Sigmundsson’s side who have won just one away match from the five European ties to date the club have ever played in – in 2014 they beat Welsh side Bangor City 4-0 away, with two draws and two defeats coming in the other European matches.

 

They lost 2-0 against Celtic in the Champions League qualifiers two years ago (The Scottish champions will face Rovers in a friendly in Tallaght on Saturday afternoon).

 

Sigmundsson’s opposite number wasn’t surprised with Stjarnan when the sides met last week. Stephen Bradley had travelled to Reyjavik ahead of the first leg to see Stjarnan, who finished runners up in last season’s Icelandic Urvalsdelid league, live in action.

 

“Stjarnan were exactly what we thought they'd be,” said Bradley about their performance in the first leg. “(They are) a physical team and dangerous from set plays. We knew that before we went there and it'll be the same again tomorrow. We're dangerous as well and Gary Shaw scored and I think Pico (Roberto Lopes) could have had another one.”

 

When Stjaran assistant manager Brynjar Gunnarsson travelled to Tallaght to watch the Hoops in their last league home game, he gave shamrockrovers.ie some background on his team, which like Rovers contains a number of younger players.

 

“We are a mix of young and experienced players,” said Gunnarsson. “We have mature players but fairly young players as well amongst them.

 

“We have a 17-year-old playing in midfield. Our bench is fairly young, 18, 19, 20 year olds.

 

“Individually, we’ve got Gudjon Baldvinsson who played for KR Reykjavik and played in Sweden and Denmark for two or three seasons.”

 

Referee: Glenn Nyberg (Sweden).

 

MATCH STATS

The win last week for Shamrock Rovers was their seventh victory away from home in 26 seasons playing in European competition and their first since their extra time win in Belgrade against Partizan that qualified the Hoops for the group stages of the 2011 Europa League.

 

There have been 21 matches between Icelandic teams and League of Ireland sides down the years. Irish clubs have seven wins (three earned by Rovers) to go with eight victories from Iceland.

 

Rovers' biggest aggregate win in Europe came against Icelandic opposition. The Hoops beat Fram Reykjavik 3-0 away and 4-0 at home in the 1982/83 UEFA Cup. That home win is also Rovers’ biggest win in a European match.

 

 

BETTING

Shamrock Rovers 8/11; Draw 5/2; Stjarnan 16/5.

 

PREDICTION

Shamrock Rovers 1-0 Stjarnan

 

 

Shamrock Rovers

Injured: Paul Corry.

Doubtful: None.

Suspended: None.

 

Stjarnan

Injured: Unknown.

Doubtful: Unknown.

Suspended: None.


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Macdara Ferris

Macdara Ferris is a contributor since 2007 to Hoops Scene (Shamrock Rovers' match day programme) and the co-author of Tallaght Time: Shamrock Rovers 2009 to 2012. He still believes that one day he will see Rovers win the FAI Cup. The first international game he attended was Luxembourg being dispatched 2-1 at Lansdowne Road by Jack Charlton's Ireland team.

He has been a writer with extratime.ie since 2012 covering the League of Ireland, the Irish National team and a few Champions League finals. He has also been known to pop up in far flung places like Ballybofey, Belfast, Berlin and Brazil to report for extratime.

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