Champions League Preview: Maribor (Sevilla, Group E)

Champions League Preview: Maribor (Sevilla, Group E)

September 11, 2017 0 By Gerry Johnston

La Liga News spoke to Maribor fan, @LukaNCvikl about the clubs Champions League draw.

How long have you been a fan of Maribor and what made you start supporting them in the first place?

Since I can remember really, NK Maribor signed my father on loan in 1991 and after that I fell in love with the club and the city of Maribor as well, at the moment I live in the UK so whenever I am in or around Slovenia I try to squeeze in as many NK Maribor matches as possible – home and away.

As a Maribor fan what are your initial thoughts on the draw?

I was really happy with the draw, we gained some European experiences in the last couple of years and I am sure the players can nick a point here and there, especially when playing at home. The group may not be the most attractive, and some said that it looks a bit more like a Europa League group, but I think it gives realistic opportunity to Maribor to cause some problems in the group.

Maribor and Sevilla met a few years ago in the Europa League with Sevilla just getting the win 4-3 on aggregate. Can Maribor use those games to their advantage in anyway?

I think those two games will give players the confidence and belief that a good result can be achieved when playing Sevilla at home and hopefully away as well, even though Sevilla is a very strong club and they of course will be the favourites for both fixtures.

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When Sevilla come to Ljudski vrt what sort of atmosphere can they expect?

There were some clashes among the fans when the two sides met last time, so I can imagine that the atmosphere will be a bit hostile when playing Sevilla, even though Ljudski vrt is a rather small stadium, the noise levels are always on a very high level, especially when the magic of the Champions league is in town.

Have Maribor done much business this summer?

Maribor brought in a couple of new players; Jasmin Mesanovic – a centre forward from Zrinjski, Bosnia, Jean-Claude Billong – a centre back from Slovenian club Rudar Velenje and Lior Einbrom a right winger on loan from Belgium club Gent. The clubs director Zlatko Zahovic managed to bring back Martin Milec from Standard Liege, a home-grown right back who in my opinion is a really important addition to the team as he brings stability to the squad.

How is Darko Milanic likely to set the team up tactically and if everyone is fit who would be the first eleven?

Maribor is a very organised team that knows how to get a result and Darko Milanic can sometimes be a bit predictable with his tactics, but it does the job it seems. The first eleven would (at the moment) look something like that (4-2-3-1): Jasmin Handanovic in goal; Mitja Viler, Marko Suler, Aleksandar Rajcevic and Marting Milec in defensive line from left to right; Marwan Kabha and Blaz Vrhovec as holding midfielders; Gregor Bajde, Valon Ahmedi and Damjan Bohar in Midfield; And as a striker – of course – the one and only Marcos Tavares, who has proven to everyone that even though he may be a bit seasoned he can still play at the highest level and is already a club legend.

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Who is the main player that Sevilla have that you worry could make things difficult for Maribor?

I’d say that Sevilla are a very strong team and our players will have to play smart football against them, but in my opinion two ex-Man City players may cause a lot of troubles to any team in Europe – Nolito and Jesus Navas.

What are Maribor’s expectations in the Champions League this season?

Even to qualify for the Champions League is a big success for a club like Maribor, but we know that our players know how to play in Europe and I think a trip to Maribor will be a tough test for every single team in the group, so I am hoping to get as many points at home as possible, so I think we can finish 3rd.

Tell us where you think the four sides will finish in the group?

This is what my heart is thinking, not my brain: I’ll go for Sevilla to win the group, Liverpool to finish 2nd as I am not the biggest fan of the team from Merseyside, Maribor to finish 3rd and qualify for the 2nd stage of the Europa League and Spartak Moscow to finish at the bottom of the group.