UEFA Chqampions League 2nd Qualifying Round, 1st leg
Legia Warsaw v St Patrick’s Athletic
Tonight: 7.45pm, Polish Army Stadium
Putting any sense of inferiority to the back of their minds while playing to their optimum in Poland tonight is what captain Ger O’Brien hopes may catch Legia Warsaw cold.
With a turnover of €50 million, a squad containing 17 internationals and an expected raucous crowd of around 15,000 roaring them on, Legia are undoubtedly a level or two above St Patrick’s.
O’Brien, though, has been in this position before.
“It’s going to be really tough as they are a good side, but you can’t come here with an inferiority complex,” said the St Patrick’s right-back.
“I’ve played in enough European games to know there is obviously a big difference. But some teams you can give too much respect to.
“We’re here with a game-plan and hoping to get a positive result to take them back to Dublin.”
Following on from what was the best week ever for League of Ireland clubs in Europe, with Dundalk, Sligo Rovers and Derry City all cruising through to the second round in the Europa League, O’Brien acknowledges that St Patrick’s drew the short straw by way of getting the toughest tie.
But the 30-year-old is prompt to point to the fact that it could have been worse, and that preparation has been good.
“We got a good journey, it was direct, which helps with preparation. When we saw who we could have got, we’re not travelling too far,” said O’Brien.
“We’d be relatively similar,” added O’Brien on Legia not exactly having set Europe alight despite their resources.
“They got to the Europa League group stages last year. But their ambition is obviously to get to the Champions League group stage, so the pressure is all on them.
“We’ll need to be at our best and get a little bit of luck. There is no reason to think that we can’t do it.
“They are expecting to go through, but we’ve come here, prepared as best we can and hopefully we can spring a surprise.”
Despite their season not having started yet, Legia manager Henning Berg says their preparation has been good.
“I think it is good for them to be in the middle of their season,” said Berg, who mentioned Keith Fahey, Killian Brennan and Christy Fagan as St Patrick’s danger men.
“We will do everything we can to win the game, playing the best football we can play. Then we know we have another game next week to qualify.”
With left-back Ian Bermingham and midfielder Brennan expected to be passed fit following ankle and knee injuries, respectively, Sean Hoare is the Saints’ only absentee.
ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC (probable): Clarke; O’Brien, Oman, Browne, Bermingham; Fahey, Bolger; Byrne, Brennan, Forrester; Fagan.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved