Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughSligo Rovers in the Europa League: A look at Spartak Trnava - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough Sligo Rovers in the Europa League: A look at Spartak Trnava - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

Sligo Rovers in the Europa League: A look at Spartak Trnava


After a win in Derry, Sligo Rovers FC must now focus on their Europa League 2nd Qualifying round tie against Spartak Trnava of Slovakia. The Slovaks will have home advantage in the first leg this coming Thursday 19th July and a new improved Showground’s will host the return leg on Thursday 26th July.

What do we know about Trnava? Prior to the occurrence of the draw, probably very little. Since then we’ve discovered that Michael O’Leary fly’s his planes to Bratislava – a mere 50km from the town of Trnava. The shrewd Rovers fans that had Ryanair’s website open while the draw took place may have availed of return flights Dublin-Bratislava for just over €100. Others lagged behind and for them getting to Trnava will prove expensive. Michael O’Leary smelt something fishy and the flight prices sky rocketed. The straightforward Dublin-Bratislava option was been replaced by the ‘Well we will fly from Knock to Luton, stay a night, then Luton to Vienna, take a boat up to Bratislava and bus it from there sure. No bother’ option. Be it by method of train or bus or plane the Bit O’ Red will definitely be on show in Slovakia. On a side note the demand for flights to bring Spartak Trnava’s fans to Sligo may be slow. As of this moment the Slovakians fans can fly into Dublin the day of the return leg for a decent €120 and rumours indicate that 40-50 Slovaks will make the trip to Sligo.

I’d imagine many Sligo Rovers fans have done a Wikipedia search to get the background check on our Europa league opponents and I understand some Rovers fans have even contacted locals in Trnava. For those who are unaware, a quick glance would lead one to assume that FC Spartak Trnava are similar to Rovers.

They were formed in the 1920s, wear red, black & white and are renowned for having the most loyal & passionate fans in their league. Actually, that may well be the end the similarities but worth mentioning nonetheless. One thing setting them apart from Rovers is the fact that FC Spartak Trnava have undergone 7 different name changes in their 89 year history. Incredible and if similar happened to Rovers, it’d result in many a fans song requiring a lyrical editing or to be quashed entirely. Graeme Monaghan would fill a new songbook every 5 years. Shouting ‘S.T.F.C Sligo Town’ doesn’t exactly seem appropriate, does it? Can you imagine Rovers name changing to ‘Sligo United or Sligo City FC’?

Trnava play in Štadión Antona Malatinského which not only has a few Irish fadas thrown into its name but is also bloody big with a capacity of 18,448 and it’s all seated. In Trnavas last handful of derbies at home against SK Slovan Bratislava (biggest derby in Slovakia) anywhere between 8,000 and 10,000 spectators turned up. In last year’s Europa League when Trnava played both Lokomotiv Moscow and Levski Sofia they got attendances of around 12,000. They usually boast a crowd of around 5,000 at most other home games. That’d suggest that Trnava have roughly 5,000 sunshine supporters. Bandwagoning – It’s a worldwide epidemic.

 I’m not sure what brand of football Trnava play, it could easily be stylish footie that’ll tear you to shreds or long ball Jack Charlton style. However Trnava had 3 players sent off and 6 others got yellow cards on their way to drawing 1-1 in last year’s Europa League tie against Lokomotiv Moscow, so I’ll just assume they can mix it. Regardless of the quality Trnava’s individuals may possess it must be noted that before this weekend their last competitive game was on the 20th May. The Slovakian Super Liga ended on that date with Trnava finishing 2ndin the table only two points behind league winners Zilina. The 2012/13 Super Liga commenced this weekend with Trnava drawing 0-0 at home and reports of the game suggest Trnava were not overly impressive.  All things considered, when the whistle blows on Thursday and Rovers get stuck into them, Trnava will have played just one competitive match in two months. All these dates and small stats may well be irrelevant but Sligo Rovers fans will hope Trnava show signs of ring rust.

Trnava have won five league titles, all coming during their six year ‘Golden Era’ between 1967 and 1973. All those years ago Trnava appeared in the semi-final of the European Cup (1969). There’s no doubting that Trnava have history but it’s difficult to gauge their current crop of players. The majority of their squad is made up of Slovak and Czech players with Trnava’s most experienced player being Miroslav Karhan. Karhan now aged 36 has an impressive career – statistically at least. He played in the German Bundesliga with Wolfsburg for six seasons, Mainz for four seasons and also notched up 107 international caps with Slovakia. Karhan is currently the captain of Trnava. Let’s hope our captain Danny Ventre gives him a warm welcome. Speaking of warm, recently temperatures in Trnava have been high 20’s or low 30’s and a quick check of the forecast signals a blistering hot day next Thursday at 32 degrees Celsius.

To be sure Spartak Trnava warrant ultimate respect but in my opinion should certainly not be feared. After all, maybe there’s Slovak lad writing about Sligo Rovers. Picture the scenario. He may state that Sligo Rovers are embarking into a ‘Golden Era’ of their own having won three Cups in two years and currently lead the League of Ireland by 6 points from Drogheda Utd. He might add that Sligo Rovers also narrowly finished second in the league last year to a team that competed admirably with Tottenham Hotspur in a one off game. He may notice that in Danny North, Rovers have a striker who averages a goal a game in the league, that Joseph Ndo was a Cameroon international in World Cups or that Romould Boco plays for the Benin national team or. He would learn that Sligo Rovers have lost only 3 of their last 38 league games. Would it be possible that Spartak Trnava could fear Sligo Rovers?

What excites me about this tie is the fact that Sligo Rovers are once again entering unexplored territory which is set to offer up an intriguing battle between two teams – teams who are unfamiliar with each other. The result? It’s impossible to speculate but grabbing an away goal would surely help the Rovers cause.

Whatever happens I hope all fans travelling to Bratislava thoroughly enjoy the trip, show their colours, shout on Rovers, respect the locals, relish the experience and come back safe.

The best of luck to Sligo Rovers.