St Patrick’s Athletic won’t compromise their approach to counter Hannover 96 at Tallaght Stadium tonight as manager Liam Buckley will send his side out to play their normal game against the Bundesliga giants.
Having travelled to Ireland following a pre-season training camp in Austria, Mirko Slomka’s side, who finished seventh in the Bundesliga last season, are naturally confident of going through to the play-off round over the two legs.
Beaten in last year’s quarter-final by eventual Europa League winners Atletico Madrid, Hannover boast a multi-national squad on an average weekly salary of €27,000 (more than twice St Pat’s weekly budget in total) and are likely to start up to seven full internationals in Dublin 24 this evening.
Their main man in midfield is Portuguese Sergio Pinto while up front 20-cap Norwegian international Mohammed Abdelaoue was their top-secret in the Bundesliga last season with 11 goals.
Some relief for St Pat’s may come with the knowledge that new €2.2 million signing from Standard Liege, Brazilian Felipe, is out with a hamstring injury, while Japanese international Hiroki Sakai is also unavailable due to injury.
“I don’t see us changing it too much. We have been playing this way all season and I do expect us to play well,” said Buckley.
“I expect us to get on the ball and I expect us to pass it like we have done in recent games.
“I expect our fellows to give us a chance and we’ve got to stick to the patterns of play we have worked on, keep our discipline and shape.
“They are just over a month into their pre-season and knowing the Germans, they will be diligent and well-organised.
“I have no doubt they are saying to themselves ‘let St Pat’s worry about us’ instead of the reverse. We’ll give them that respect.
“They are a decent team and a Bundesliga outfit. But having said that, I have no doubt that we’ve a chance of getting some sort of a result as long as we keep our shape and keep the ball.”
Having to move from Richmond Park, where they are unbeaten in 11 European games, is far from ideal for St Pat’s. But Tallaght Stadium is scarcely alien to the Inchicore outfit.
“I have to be honest, I’m very disappointed,” said Buckley on not being able to stay by the Camac.
“The atmosphere that Richmond brings, the place was buzzing and hopping when we scored the two goals against Siroki. It is so tight down there. We’re disappointed, but, that said, we’ve a reasonable record in Tallaght, so we’re looking forward to that.”
St. Patrick’s Athletic (probable): Clarke; O’Brien, Kenna, Browne, Bermingham; Russell, Chambers, Bolger; Forrester, Fagan, O’Connor.
Hannover 96 (probable): Zieler; Cherundolo, Haggui, Eggimann, Pander; Stindl, Pinto, Andreasen, Huszti; Abdellaoue, Schlaudraff.
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