Czech side FK Viktoria Zizkov have Real Betis Balompié in their sights as they ready themselves for their UEFA Cup second round first-leg encounter at the Strahov stadium tonight.
Zizkov provided one of shocks of the first round when they eliminated Scotland's Rangers FC on away goals and on Saturday they demolished the reigning Czech champions FC Slovan Liberec 4-0, a win which took them to fourth place in the Czech first division. For Betis coach Victor Fernández the tie evokes less than happy memories of last year's competition when his RC Celta de Vigo side were eliminated by another Czech side, Liberec, at the same stage.
Home from home
If Zizkov's ground had met UEFA standards then Vitezslav Lavicka's side would be even more confident after a run of 30 matches without defeat there, but instead they have to play their European home games at SK Slavia Praha's stadium. It was the same for Slovan last year but they still reached the last eight.
'Betis are favourites'
Lavicka said: "Rangers underrated us and that will not be repeated by Betis, they are clear favourites." Zizkov will be without suspended defender Jan Buryán, so Michal Scasný will take over on the right side of defence with Marcel Licka moving into the centre.
FC Schalke 04 coach Frank Neubarth, meanwhile, has been looking to Polish international Tomasz Hajto for information on his side's opponents, Legia Warszawa. The 30-year-old Hajto said: "At home in Gelsenkirchen I'm able to see all the Polish TV stations, so I can see all the first division matches. We shouldn't have any problems with Legia, we will beat them."
'I'm not afraid'
Despite just one victory in their last four 1. Bundesliga matches, Neubarth shares this optimism. "We have shown real quality in our last few games so I'm not afraid," he said. Nevertheless, the young coach has injury problems with Victor Agali, Tomasz Waldoch and Nico van Kerckhoven all out and flu victim Gerald Asamoah a serious doubt. Legia, who sit top of the Polish Ekstraklasa, will have received the go-ahead to play the game at their Wojska Polskiego stadium despite a pitch invasion in last Friday's league match against Widzew Lódz.
'A very important game'
Djurgårdens IF FF, who are within touching distance of winning the Swedish title, face FC Girondins de Bordeaux in the night's other tie. The Allsvenskan leaders have a fully-fit squad to choose from and coach Sören Åkeby believes the outcome of the game could have a positive effect on their domestic situation. He said: "This game is a very important game and it gives us a good opportunity to gather pace ahead of the final round of our domestic campaign."
Bordeaux, on the other hand, have had a poor start in Ligue 1 and lie eleventh after four matches without a win. Club chairman Dominique Imbault said: "We have outstanding players who cannot play together. Everyone has to concentrate on himself but also the team." One player unaffected for the moment is defender Jérôme Bonnissel, who has pulled out with a knee strain. The remaining 21 second-round matches will be played on Thursday.
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