The Champions League. One day before the start, it’s time for the last update from the purple dressing room. The first group match is upon us. What’s going through our coach’s mind before the start of a busy schedule which will last all the way until December?
“I’m happy we’re about to start. We are going into quarantine so that we can prepare for the match in peace and discuss the final details. The boys are familiar with the Spartak squad and we’ve already had a few training sessions dedicated specifically to them. All in all, we can hardly wait for the game to start and weare very much looking forward to it. Some players already have Champions League experience, others will be playing their first match in the competition. We are expecting good things. We know we’ll be up against a very good team. If we want the match to end in our favour, we’ll have to be excellent. We know what’s coming. We’ll make sure that every condition is met for an amazing game.”
There are some problems with injuries and illness. Luka Zahović is still training individually and we’ll also have to make do without Dare Vršič and Or Inbrom, who returned from international duty with an injured heel. Billong won’t be available for selection because of long-standing digestive problems and Denis Šme is also doubtful. Everyone else is healthy and eager to write another unforgettable chapter of our story.
Our first opponent in group E of this year’s Champions League will be Spartak Moscow, who are coming to Ljudskivrt. Darko Milanič outlined the main characteristics of the Russian team: “They are a very organized team. They don’t allow their opponents to play an open game. They pull back very quickly and it’s hard to get through their defence. On the other hand, they are very dangerous through counter attacks. But we can neutralise all that by playing as a team. We’ve analysed them thoroughly. They play with different defensive set-ups, but we’ll be ready for all of them.”
Final thoughts on the match: if Maribor play the way they played on their way to the Champions League, they can compete with Spartak as well. “We and the fans must be as one, and on the pitch, we must play as a team and help each other out. If we do that, we can also demonstrate the individual quality, which we have in the team. What is important is that both we and the fans retain our patience, because there is no doubt that we will have to dig in and defend during certain stages of the game. On top of that, we must show enough energy and boldness going forward,” said the coach before tomorrow’s Champions League premiere.