By Jim Wirth in Krakow
Zabierzow is the place to be on Thursday as South-West Region-Sofia take on Central Slovakia for a place in the UEFA Regions' Cup final.
With Spanish representatives Vasca having booked their berth Saturday's final as Group B winners with a 2-1 victory against Dacia on Tuesday, the Bulgarian and Slovakian sides are the only Group A teams who still have a chance to join them, with Ivan Iliev's Sofia needing only to avoid defeat to progress thanks to their two-point advantage.
Playing against ten men doubtless helped Ján Petrák's side in their 6-0 win against JMKFS Brno on Matchday 2, but the Slovaks showed a real killer instinct in front of goal and began to justify the top billing they were given by some insiders at the start of the tournament.
However, Sofia have impressed everyone since arriving, beating Brno and hosts Malopolska comfortably, and showing that - in Ivaylo Angelov and Ivan Todorov - they have two of the best players in the tournament. "We are tactically disciplined and play compact football," Angelov told uefa.com.
Sofia's Georgi Gaydarov, Lyobomir Vitanov, Deylan Koychev and Ivaylo Strandzhov are all within a booking of a one-match suspension, as are the Slovakians' Miroslav Laco, Norbert Ilko and Marián Berky, but with much at stake in Zabierzow, tactical selections based upon reaching the final are unlikely.
With nothing at stake in their last group game against Republic of Ireland, Vasca can afford to take their feet off the pedal, and the number of players having been shown yellow cards in their previous two games may well be a major factor in José Antionio Goikoetxea's team selection as the final looms.
Having fielded just four of the players from their 4-1 opening day win against Kahovka-Kzeso in their game against Dacia, the coach will be aware that Fernando Veliz, Xabier Gurtubay, Jon Unai Martinez, Zigor Aragón Elepse, Lander Uriguen and top scorer Roberto Correa are all within one yellow card missing the final.
The Irish, meanwhile, will be looking to get a win to lift them off the bottom of Group B, as will Dacia, who may have felt disappointed to have lost against Vasca on Tuesday having played some attractive football and limited their opponents to some rather rudimentary long-ball tactics at times.
Dacia's last opponents are Kahovka-Kzeso, who will be able to call upon Viacheslav Diachenko again after he served his one-match suspension in the 4-2 win against the Irish. However, with striker Viktor Bakum still serving a two-match ban, they will be relying on Aleksey Ananichev to lead the line again.
In the final Group A game, Polish hosts Malopolska and Brno will both be looking for a first win of the tournament, although the Czechs will have to do so without goalkeeper Ladislav Vymazal who was shown the red card barely 30 minutes into their 6-0 defeat against their neighbours from Slovakia on Matchday 2. Lukas Vagner is also suspended after picking up a second yellow card.
Malopolska, meanwhile, will hope that they can impress home supporters at the third time of asking and avoid the mistakes that led to their 4-0 defeat against Sofia. "Our defensive errors were decisive for the defeat," captain Slawomir Jagla told uefa.com. "But, in any case, the Bulgarians were the better side."
Additional reporting by Pawel Dimow & Marek Göbel
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