Preview: The big build-up as The New Saints host FC Midtjylland in their first leg UEFA Europa League clash
Date and Time: Thursday 9th August (19:45)
Venue: Cardiff City Stadium
Referee: Peter Kralovic
The New Saints will face-off against FC Midtjylland in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League third round qualification clash with the ambition of taking a positive result to Denmark next week.
They will go head-to-head with the Danish giants in the Welsh Capital after knocking out Gibraltar-outfit Lincoln Red Imps 3-2 on aggregate in the previous round.
Irish striker Dean Ebbe struck late to book their place at this stage of the competition and they will now look to push-on further in this competition as they aim to book their place in the next round of the competition, where they will face-off against Vidi of Hungary, or Malmo of Sweden if they do advance further.
New Saints manager Scott Ruscoe believes that his side are in good spirits ahead of their first-leg clash in the Welsh Capital.
He said: “The mood is very good, we trained yesterday and everything went positively in the Vale, it was an excellent surface and it is what will no doubt be replicated here.
“It is a lovely stadium, they have a wonderful pitch here. The momentum is with us, we have played in Europe over the course of the last few weeks. On a fitness level, we are where we need to be. We are very much looking forward to the game.”
But he believes if The New Saints show any sort of weaknesses against the Danish Champions, they could be in for a gruelling 90 minutes at the Cardiff City Stadium but he has done his homework and is eager for his players to test FC Midtjylland when the two sides collide this evening.
- “Our players have got to be at nine and 10’s to get anywhere near this team, it is not out of our hands but if we don’t show up and show any weaknesses on the night, then it is going to be a very long 90 minutes. Then we have the away game, which will be even more difficult.
“All I can ask from these set of players is that we have a go. We will stick to our game plan and I want this bunch of players to play at their maximum. That’s all I can ask for really.”
Ruscoe ironically was in the side which lost 8-3 on aggregate to the Danes the last time these two sides met, in the UEFA Europa League second phase qualification game during the 2011/2012 season.
Although it will be a tough task this time around for them to advance to the next round, it is a game for The New Saints to prove how far they have come by producing proficient performances in the home and away legs against FC Midtjylland.
And if they can keep the game tight at the Cardiff City Stadium, they will give themselves a fantastic chance heading into the second leg, which will be hosted at the MCH Arena, in Herning, next Thursday.
Dean Ebbe (The New Saints)
The Irish forward scored in both legs of their win over the Lincoln Red Imps in the previous leg and he could once again be their biggest threat at the Cardiff City Stadium this evening.
The 24-year-old has got a big goal up his sleeve and The New Saints will be hoping he can bag yet another goal in Europe after firing them into this stage of the competition.
Paul Onuachu (FC Midtjylland)
The Danes star striker possesses real quality. He was called up to the Nigeria under-23 side in 2015, and standing at 6 ft 7, he could pose a huge threat to The New Saints’ backline, especially in aerial situations.
He’s scored 28 goals for the Danish Champions over the course of the last two seasons and has already scored once in three appearances since the Danish Superliga got back underway – and he has scored a total of 34 times in 100 appearances since making the move to FC Midtjylland in 2012.
Who is referee, Peter Kralovic?
Kralovic is a 35-year-old official who is from Slovakia. He has a lot of experience in overseeing games at this level and has taken charge of seven UEFA Europa League qualification games previously, producing a total of 26 yellow cards and two red cards.
Kralovic has also taken charge of two UEFA Champions League qualification games, producing a total of 16 yellow cards. He also refereed four games at the 2016 European under-17 Championships, producing eight yellows and one red card.
The venue for this evening’s encounter is the Cardiff City Stadium. It opened in 2009, and has hosted prestigious events in the past, such as the UEFA Super Cup in 2014 between Real Madrid and Sevilla.
It has also hosted concerts in the past and is in pristine condition ahead of tonight’s game – it will also see Premier League football this season after Cardiff City were promoted from the Championship at the end of the 2017/2018 season.
(Featured image: Jon Candy)