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Watch: No pressure on Balzan as they face Slovan Bratislava

Video: Matthew Mirabelli

Balzan are feeling no pressure as the Reds continue their Europa League journey when they face Slovakia’s Slovan Bratislava in the second qualifying round first leg tie at the Centenary Stadium today (kick-off: 6pm).

The Maltese side start as heavy underdogs against a Slovan side who are in rich scoring form having brushed aside Moldova’s Milsami 9-2 on aggregate in the previous side and will start as clear favourites to set up a third qualifying round against Austria’s Rapid Vienna.

But Balzan will be relishing the prospect of trying to cause another upset in the competition.

In fact, Marko Micovic’s men enter the tie in high spirits after managing to eliminate Azerbaijan’s FK Kesla 5-3 on aggregate and will be determined to surprise their more-quoted opponents.

Vladimir Simovic, the Balzan technical director, told Times of Malta that they are fully aware of the difficult task ahead.

“Slovan Bratislava are a very strong side as their performances in Europe this season clearly show,” Simovic told Times of Malta.

“We have watched them play in their last three matches and where they have really underlined their scoring prowess. In fact in the two European matches played and their league opener they have managed to score 13 goals, nine in Europe and four in the domestic league.

“They play with a 4-3-3 formation and have two tall and strong central defenders who are very dangerous in set-pieces. Added to that they have two full backs who are really technical and they have a very good winger, Mohammed Rharsalla, who scored two goals against Milsami.

“But we will be ready for them and try and get a good result before the second leg.”

Micovic has no fresh injury problems and can bank on a full squad, bar Serbian striker Andrija Majdevac who must serve a one-match ban after seeing red against FK Kesla last week.

Simovic’s said that the historic qualification against FK Kesla has taken off all the pressure on the Balzan players.

“In a way we have already reached our goal of passing one round of a European competition for the first time in our history and that has taken all the pressure from our shoulders,” Simovic said.

“Our plan will be very clearly we will try and play a very disciplined game where we will try and attack with our quick forays, similar to what we have done against Kesla.

“For us this was a very difficult draw as Slovan Bratislava are very strong but our qualification against FK Kesla has instilled a lot of belief in our players and we are determined to give a good account of ourselves.” 

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