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While Debreceni VSC are aiming to become the first Hungarian side to reach the UEFA Champions League group stage since 1995/96, PFC Levski Sofia coach Ratko Dostanic has implored his team to take the "one last stride" needed to confirm their place at Europe's top table.
Ratko Dostanic, Levski coach
At this stage we have very little to lose. We have already guaranteed games in the UEFA Europa League group stage, but to play in the UEFA Champions League is something different. The players know that and they want to give the fans something to cheer about. We have watched a lot of Debrecen's games in both the previous qualifying rounds and the Hungarian league. The players are focused and looking forward to playing – we need to take just one last stride. We all know what it means and will give our best. We need to be wise – the tie is not just 90 minutes but 180, and we should be ready to fight all the way.
András Herczeg, Debrecen coach
Our opponents play a different kind of football than the Swedish or Estonian champions [whom Debrecen defeated in the previous two rounds]. They keep the ball and prefer to build their attacks from the back rather than hit it long. They can vary their tactics and I can say that Levski play real quality football. It is crucial for us to shut out the atmosphere at the stadium in Sofia which will be difficult when we play in front of some 30,000 home supporters.
• Debrecen are seeking to become the first Hungarian side since Ferencvárosi TC in 1995/96 to compete in the UEFA Champions League proper. To end that wait they must overcome a Levski side with recent experience of the group stage, following their participation in 2006/07.
• Levski may prefer not to remember their past encounters with Hungarian opponents. They lost heavily against Újpest FC in the first round of the 1974/75 European Champion Clubs' Cup, going down 3-0 at home and 4-1 away. They enjoyed no better fortune against Ferencváros in the first round of the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1991/92. After a narrow 3-2 home loss, they suffered a 4-1 defeat in Hungary in the return.
• Although Levski won through in 2006/07, with a victory over Italian side AC Chievo Verona, they have slipped up four times in the qualifying stages – in 2000/01, 2001/02, 2002/03 and 12 months ago, when they lost out to FC BATE Borisov of Belarus. Debrecen have never competed in the UEFA Champions League group stage.
How they reached the play-offs
• Levski saw off Andorra's UE Sant Julià 9-0 on aggregate before bettering Azerbaijani champions FC Bakı in the third qualifying round, a 2-0 second-leg home win carrying them through by the same score on aggregate.
• Debrecen reached the play-off round by eliminating Sweden's Kalmar FF on away goals in the second qualifying round – after a 3-3 aggregate draw – and then securing 1-0 wins both home and away against FC Levadia Tallinn.
Out: Zhivko Milanov (unspecified), Vladimir Gadjev (knee)
Suspended: Youssef Rabeh
Misses next match if booked: Zé Soares, Georgi Sarmov, Darko Tasevski
Out: Csaba Bernáth (calf)
Misses next match if booked: Adamo Coulibaly, Marcell Fodor, Gergely Rudolf, Jozsef Varga
Previous competitive results
15/08/09 PFC Minior Pernik 0-2 Levski (Bulgarian A PFG)
(Yovov 79, Ortega 84)
14/08/09 Debrecen 2-1 Haladás FC (Hungarian 1. Liga)
(Leandro 2, Czvitkovics 64; Ugrai 75)
Did you know?
Debrecen have only reached the final stage of qualifying once before – in 2005/06, when they were beaten by Manchester United FC.
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