Shamrock Rovers prepare for first Champions League game in ten years

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It may be hard to believe but a club as big as Shamrock Rovers, until last year, had not won the Irish league since 2011. Now they prepare themselves for a run in the Champions League qualifiers

At 17:30 on Wednesday, 7th July, Shamrock Rovers will travel to the National Stadium in Slovakia to face Slovan Bratislava.

Bratislava has won the Slovakia football championship for three years in a row. Their squad includes a few of the internationals that traveled to Euro 2020 with Slovakia.

Although they have not qualified for the Champions League group stages before, they made an appearance at the Europa League in the 2019/2020 season. The club’s greatest moment was winning the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup way back in 1969.

The young Rovers manager, Stephen Bradley who is still only 36, says that his team is prepared for the occasion.

“They’re obviously a really good side. They dominate Slovakian football, and they have real quality all over the pitch, top-level quality with internationals. But we’re excited by it,” said Bradley.

“We know what they’re about, they’re a very good side but it’s one that excites us and one that we’re looking forward to.”

Shamrock Rovers team news

Shamrock Rovers will be without Irish midfielders Chris McCann and Neil Farrugia who won’t travel due to injury.

They currently sit on top of the League of Ireland after 19 games, only ahead of Sligo Rovers on goal difference.

 

Rovers will begin their Champions League run away in Bratislava. Many believe that teams will play very differently now that the ‘away goal’ rule has been removed from the competition.

“That’s been taken out of it so I’m sure that will alter how teams go away from home and play in Europe when it’s not important. It’s going to be different, but it is what it is, and we’ll go there with a game plan,” added Bradley.

The League of Ireland is yet to have a representative at the Champions League group stages, could Rovers be the first? If they lose over the two legs, they will be placed into the third qualifying round of the newly made Europa Conference League.

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