Champions League, 2nd qualifying round, 2nd leg
St Patrick’s Athletic (1) v Legia Warsaw (1)
Tonight: Tallaght Stadium 7.45pm
Ger O’Brien is determined to ensure St Patrick’s Athletic are not a hard luck story at Tallaght Stadium tonight as he and his team-mates face a once in a lifetime opportunity.
The SSE Airtricity League champions are tied 1-1 with Legia Warsaw from the first leg of their Champions League, second qualifying round tie in Poland last week.
Given their resources and standard, the Poles remain favourites to go through.
But skipper O’Brien insists St Pat’s need to realise they are good enough to mix it with tonight’s opponents.
Victory would set up a mouthwatering third round tie against Celtic.
“They’re a massive club and it’s huge for them to go through,” said O’Brien. “They’ve ambitions of getting to the group stage whereas we just want to progress through the tie. For the players, for the club financially it’s huge, and it’s huge for the profile of the league as well.
“They’re a good side. We knew last week, and we know (tonight) they are going to have a lot of the ball. But we need to realise how good we are as players.
“We probably created the better chances over there. A stat popped up on the TV when I was watching a recording of the game that we had |seven shots on target to their one.
“They can have all the possession they like but once we are on the right end of the scoring tomorrow, that’s the only thing that matters.
“We need to believe we can get through the tie. If we do that, and carry that attitude in as a group, we’ll give ourselves a great chance.”
St. Pat’s have earned €375,000 in Uefa prize money thus far. Should they get through to meet Celtic they could add up to €1m to that, given additional minimum prize money of €350,000 plus a massive home gate against Celtic at the Aviva Stadium.
But it’s a prospect manager Liam Buckley has been at pains to put to the back of his players’ minds.
“We’ve spoken about it, we’re aware of it, it’s there for us,” said Buckley of the prospect of playing Celtic in the third round.
“A match against Celtic in Dublin, at the Aviva, a competitive Champions League game, it doesn’t get any better. It would be fantastic for St Pat’s.
“That said, we could be out of the tournament at 10pm tomorrow. So we’ve got to focus and make sure our full concentration is on applying ourselves, having a game plan and sticking to it, to give ourselves a chance of getting through the tie.”
Buckley is confident that midfielder Killian Brennan will be fit even though he only trained for the first time last night having come off late on in the first leg with an ongoing knee injury.
Legia travelled without Portuguese international striker Orlando SA who went off injured in the first leg.
Having lost their only other two competitive games this season, Legia boss Henning Berg said he doesn’t feel under any pressure.
“I think being at Legia every game we play is important,” said Berg.
“At every football club there is expectation and pressure.”
ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC (probable): Clarke; O’Brien, Oman, Browne, Bermingham; Fahey, Bolger; Byrne, Brennan, Forrester; Fagan.
Legia Warsaw (probable): Kuciak; Broz, Rzezniczak, Astiz, Brzyski; Jodlowiec, Pinto; Zyro, Radovic, Kosecki; Duda.
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