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After losing in the UEFA Europa League play-offs for two years running, ŠK Slovan Bratislava are keen to make the most of their group stage appearance this season – even with a daunting trip to Paris Saint-Germain FC looming on Thursday.
Coach Vladimír Weiss made a promising start to his Slovan tenure by masterminding their play-off success against AS Roma in August, and is now equally determined to lift his side off the foot of Group F. "It's a great experience for them," Weiss told UEFA.com. "They are young players with good prospects and this club has fresh ambition.
"We need to build a new stadium and next year will see the construction of this new arena for Slovan, so there are new horizons, new goals to achieve. We are halfway through building a new team and a new infrastructure – and our new stadium will be the pride of this club."
Slovan picked up their first point in Group F when PSG visited Slovakia on 20 October; however, after the Ligue 1 leaders had Clément Chantôme and Siaka Tiéné sent off in the second half of the matchday three encounter, Weiss cut a frustrated figure as his team battled out a goalless draw against nine men.
"Before the match I would have been happy with a point," Weiss said. "But afterwards I was a bit disappointed. We could have shown better quality and composure on the ball against nine men. We should have scored, and we were lucky we didn't concede because [Jérémy] Menez is a fantastic player and [Javier] Pastore and [Diego] Lugano are excellent individuals."
If Slovan are a club with lofty ambitions, their 47-year-old trainer recognises that his young charges face a herculean task in attempting to thwart their expensively assembled opponents at the Parc des Princes. "PSG are a great team for the future. I spoke to [their sporting director] Leonardo before the first match and he was full of enthusiasm. He wants to build a great team. He was full of excitement, his eyes were sparkling; his face flashed that inimitable Brazilian smile. He is hugely ambitious and could build a very good European team."
With such resources at PSG's disposal, Weiss is fully aware of the challenge that awaits the visitors to Paris, yet whatever happens the joint Slovan and Slovakia national team coach believes his side will be better for the experience.
"It will be hard there," he said. "They'll be playing at home and they have to win if they want to progress in the competition. We are going there to learn but we'll try to put on a good performance. Obviously, the hosts will put us under a lot of pressure because they have great quality. But it should be a good game, and in football you never know."
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