Shamrock Rovers braced for daunting Slovan Bratislava test

Champions to bank €280,000 from qualifier

Shamrock Rovers celebrate Sean Gannon’s goal during their win over Dundalk. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Shamrock Rovers celebrate Sean Gannon’s goal during their win over Dundalk. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

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Uefa Champions League - first qualifying round. ŠK Slovan Bratislava v Shamrock Rovers. Wednesday July 7th - Národný Futbalový Stadium, Bratislava, (kick-off 5.30pm Irish time).

Irish football and Shamrock Rovers in particular could learn a lot from Slovakian football in the next six days. Or nothing at all.

Fresh from a respectable Euros campaign – beating Poland before Sweden softened them up for Spain – denied to Stephen Kenny’s Ireland on penalties, the country’s second most important team turn their attention to the money trail.

Wednesday night’s fixture banks both clubs €280,000 with the ultimate financial reward being a €15.25 million windfall for reaching the Champions League group stages.

That is the lofty aim of only one club in this tie. Young Boys of Switzerland and a cool €380,000 awaits the winner of this two-legged affair.

So plenty riding on this one.

“There is a lot riding on every game in this club,” corrected Rovers manager Stephen Bradley.

Progress for Rovers would launch comparisons to the Europa League breakthrough of 2011, but any sort of respectable result will ensure a raucous atmosphere at Tallaght Stadium next Tuesday (providing the Government allows an increase in attendance from 500 fans).

“They are a very good team,” said Bradley. “They have obviously dominated Slovakian football for the last few years. I’ve watched quite a few of their games. Really dangerous going forward and it’s a difficult game, but we are looking forward to it. It’s a good challenge.”

Rovers travel without Neil Farrugia and possibly Chris McCann but the team that blitzed Dundalk 3-1 last Friday had enough quality to keep recent Ireland squad member Danny Mandroiu in reserve.

“Their system is basic when you look at it, but it very rarely stays like that,” says Bradley in a very good impression of how Kenny speaks about the need for fluidity in modern football. “They interchange, they rotate, they are very aggressive with their positions.

“It’s a nice challenge, it’s good, it’s fresh, it’s something different, like Europe always is. It’s obviously a step up, but it’s one we are looking forward to.”

The newest twist for European football is the abolition of the away goal rule which effectively compels Rovers to batten down the hatches.

“It definitely does change the way away teams will approach games,” Bradley added. “It made away teams more aggressive in how they played the game in terms of needing that away goal and how important it was. So I’m not really in favour of it, but there is nothing we can do.”

The match is being live streamed for €10 via Shamrockrovers.ie .

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