Who are Dundalk's Europa League opponents Slovan Bratislava of Slovakia?

Sun, Aug 04 2019

Following their defeat to Qarabag FK in the Champions League qualifiers last week, Dundalk now drop into the Europa League, where they will face SK Slovan Bratislava in the third qualifying round. 

Who are Slovan Bratislava? 

Slovan are celebrating its centenary year having been established in 1919 not long after the formation of Czechoslovakia, which broke away from the Austro-Hungarian Empire following the end of the First World War.

However, it wasn’t until after the Second World War that the club began to flourish, winning the Czechoslovak First League three years running between 1949 and 1951. 

The club’s finest moment happened 50 years ago when they lifted the 1969 Cup Winners’ Cup after beating Barcelona 3-2 at the old St Jakob Stadium in Basel.

Slovan are one of the most decorated clubs between both Slovakia and the Czech Republic, having won 17 Slovak Leagues and 15 Slovak Cups in addition to the eight Czechoslovak Leagues and five Czechoslovak Cups they won before 1993.

What European pedigree do Slovan Bratislava have?

Since their famous Cup Winners’ Cup triumph, Slovan have been regular fixtures in European competition. It wasn’t until 2011 that they again achieved something of note on the continental stage.

Slovan did this by beating AS Roma to reach the Europa League group stages and although they finished bottom of their group, Slovan earned a credible 0-0 draw with Paris Saint-Germain.

Slovan again qualified for the Europa League group stages in 2014 after reaching the Champions League play-off round, where they lost 4-1 on aggregate to BATE Borisov.

Slovan are also no stranger to facing League of Ireland clubs, having defeated St Patrick’s Athletic in the old UEFA Cup in 1996 before more recently beating a UCD side which included Dundalk midfielder Robbie Benson in 2015.

Who to watch out for? 

Unlike previous opponents Riga FC and Qarabag, the Slovakian champions don’t boast a plethora of current full internationals.

Their captain, defender Vasil Bozhikov has 21 caps for Bulgaria while midfielder David Holman once shared a bench with former Dundalk player Krisztian Adorjan when the Hungary lost 3-0 to Portugal in a World Cup qualifier at the Estadio da Luz back in March 2017.

Holman has previously played in the Europa League group stages with Lech Poznan in 2015, as has former Spanish U-20 international Nono Delgado, who was part of a Real Betis team that reached the last 16 of Europe’s secondary competition in 2013/14 only to lose to eventual winners Sevilla. 

The Spanish link doesn’t end there with Serbian winger Dejan Drazic having played in La Liga with Celta Vigo while Mitch Apau, Joeri de Kamps, Myenty Abena as well as former Nigerian and Celtic midfielder Rabiu Ibrahim have all played in the Eredivisie (Dutch top-flight) at one time or another. 

Slovan’s biggest threat going forward is undoubtedly their record signing Andraz Sporar – a Slovenian international that cost a reported €2m from FC Basel, for whom he featured in the Champions League group stages in 2016.

He bagged 29 league goals as Slovan won the Super Liga, finishing 17 points ahead of runners-up DAC Dunajska Streda, who have Republic of Ireland U-21 international Connor Ronan in their ranks.

Who will the winners face in the Europa League play-off round?

The draw for the Europa League play-off round will take place this Monday at 12.30pm Irish time.