NK Domžale vs Freiburg Thursday 20:05BST/21:05CEST – Stadion Stožice – Ljubljana
Freiburg made the jump from preseason to competition smoothly with a 1:0 home win in Leg 1. Domžale however, will have to dig deep and summon the spirit of their 2005/06 UEFA Cup side who beat Stuttgart 1:0 in Slovenia 11 years ago.
Domžale will need to create more chances at home on Thursday if they have any aspirations of making an appearance in this seasons UEFA Europa League Playoff. Somewhat stifled in Leg 1 the Ravbarji now have it all to do at home in Leg 2 – they are trying to reach the playoff stage for the first time in their history and with it a shot at the group stages. Rožman’s side made a return to winning ways over the weekend, beating NK Ankaran Hrvatini away from home by 1:3, the result enough to take them third in the Prva Liga after three games. Having scored seven goals in the two games either side of last week’s Europa League tie, the Ravbarji will be confident they have what it takes to overturn the slender deficit.
Freiburg, on the other hand, saw a return to pre season preparations after the visit of Domžale last week. The Breisgau-Brasilianer haven’t played a fixture since Leg 1 of this round – they will be hoping a lack of match practice doesn’t hamper their preparations for this crucial return leg. Torino await them in a club friendly after this fixture and then a six-day gap until they take to the field in the DFB Pokal. For a team who excited last season, there is a worry that Europa League success could hamper their ability to perform to the same level in this coming season’s Bundesliga. With squad depth, concern, a group placing in the Europa League could be a detriment in disguise. Freiburg should have the quality to see this tie out, and then, the Gods of European football will decide their fate – should they progress into the next round it is likely they could face stiff competition from either England or Spain.
Domžale vs Freiburg – Players to look out for:
Jan Repas #10 – Domžale
The 20-year-old Slovenian has been described as a potential future national star. Playing in all four of the Ravbarji Europa League qualification games so far, he has scored twice and assisted once – not bad for a young attacking midfielder. Opening the scoring in QR2 away at Valur Reykjavík, he displayed a maturity to finish calmly after an assist by left back, Balkovec. If the Slovenian’s are to stand a chance of reaching the playoff stages for the first time, their ability to get Repas on the ball — and into the game — may just be a crucial strategy worth exploring.
Florian Niederlechner #7– Freiburg
Niederlechner has become the number one striker for the Breisgau-Brasilianer after Maximilian Philipp swapped the Schwarzwald-Stadion for Signal-Iduna Park this summer. However, this shouldn’t add any extra pressure to the 26-year-old as he was a crucial part of their success last season. Scoring 12 times and assisting a further three over a 36-game domestic season, Niederlechner proved his attacking worth to all at the border city club. His preference is to dribble at the defensive line when able, but drop off, and he can punish defences with a well-aimed long shot. Domžale should also be wary of his ability to link with those around him to build a credible attack.
Domžale vs Freiburg – Match Stats
- Domžale trail 1-0; but they have won their last five European home games
- Group stage contenders in 2013/14, Freiburg finished seventh in Germany last season
- Domžale are looking to make it to the Playoff Round for the first time
- Before the last leg, Freiburg hadn’t played a competitive fixture for nine weeks
- Domžale come into this fixture off the back of a 1:3 league win on Sunday
Futbolgrad Prediction: Domžale vs Freiburg – 1:1
Domžale vs Freiburg – Possible Lineups
Milic; Vetrih, Firer, Sirok, Bizjak; Repas, Matjasic, Blazic, Dobrovoljc; Balkovec Husmani
Coach: Simon Rozman
Formation: 4-4-2 (double 6)
Schwolow; Ignjovski, Kübler, Kempf, Gunter; Bulut, Hofler, Abrashi, Haberer; Niederlechner, Petersen
Coach: Christian Streich
Chris Williams is a freelance European football journalist. Covering the Bundesliga, Premier League and both of UEFA’s European club competitions — he can be found somewhere between the Kop and Yellow Wall. Published in both local and international publications, such as the Liverpool Echo and Sport Bild, he also contributes to television and radio across the United Kingdom. A member of the UK’s Sports Journalist Association and the International Sports Press Association (AIPS) he lives and breathes football. Follow Chris Williams on Twitter @Chris78Williams