UEFA Europa League

Preview: UEFA EL – Today’s matches

UEFA Europa LeagueAfter Shkendija’s opening match against Portadown, Metalurg and Renova start their European campaigns today.

The second placed side in the domestic championship last season, Metalurg, travels to Malta to play the first leg of the first qualifying round against Birkirkara.  Metalurg’s opponent finished last season in third place in the Maltese league.

Manager Gjorgji Hristov does not have apparent problems with the squad relating to injuries or other reasons.  All Metalurg players are focused and fit to open the European season with a positive result.  Metalurg kept the majority of their squad from last season and added to that with several new signings, mainly coming from Shkendija and Ohrid.  Birkirkara play their matches on a pitch with artificial grass, but this game will be played at the stadium of Hibernians.  It will kick-off at 19.00 CET and the referee will be Ivaylo Stoyanov from Bulgaria.  The managers of both teams held a press conference prior to today’s match and each stated they are expecting a tough encounter.  There’s no stream or TV coverage announced.  Online bookmakers set Metalurg as favorites with them being priced at 1.66. Draw stands at 3.75, while a hosts’ win is priced at 5.00.

Renova, the domestic cup winner, also start their European campaign today with the easiest opponent of all the Macedonian teams.  They will square off against Libertas from San Marino.  The match will be played in Kumanovo, at 17.30 CET, just like Shkendija’s match on Tuesday.  Hopefully, Renova will have better luck then Shkendija.  Manager Vlatko Kostov will have to field a team without Boban Janchevski as he has a yellow cards suspension from last season.  Everything else besides a convincing win for Renova will be considered a failure in this match.  It is expected that the visitors will play defensive football so they can go home with as few conceded goals as possible, but Renova’s players are experienced enough to break down Libertas’ defense.  The referee for this match will be Danilo Grujić from Serbia.

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