Levadia seek Debrecen payback

Debreceni VSC eliminated FC Levadia Tallinn from the UEFA Champions League last season, but Igor Prins' side are eager "to produce something massive" as the two teams meet again.

Igor Prins celebrates winning last season's Estonian title
Igor Prins celebrates winning last season's Estonian title ©FC Levadia Tallinn

Coach Igor Prins has told FC Levadia Tallinn "it's time to produce something massive" as they prepare for a rematch with Debreceni VSC in the UEFA Champions League second qualifying round.

The Hungarian champions knocked out Levadia in last season's third qualifying round after their Estonian counterparts had pulled off a major coup by eliminating Wisła Kraków at the previous stage. Indeed, they remain the only Estonian side to have successfully navigated their way through a round of Europe's top club competition, having now done so on three occasions.

Last season's exit came with 1-0 home and away defeats, as Debrecen went on to reach the group stage, but that is all forgotten now. "I don't want to look back," said the 43-year-old Prins. "A lot has changed since for both teams; some players left, some came in. Upsets are always nice, but it's time to produce something massive."

On a run of four straight title successes, the seven-time Estonian champions are not having everything their own way in the Meistriliiga this season, where FC Flora trail them at the top of the table by just two points with a game in hand. "Things aren't all that bright in the league, but we will have a different attitude for the Champions League," said Prins.

With the tie against Debrecen to kick off in Tallinn, captain and midfielder Konstantin Nahk, 35, hopes home fans can keep Levadia upbeat. "We had a temporary slump in the league but it wasn't that dramatic," he said. "Now everything is back to normal. Our opponents are tough, but I hope supporters will get behind us at home."

Club president Viktor Levada added: "The preparation process is going well. Our players and coaches know what bonuses they will get if we win, so we can only wait and see. Last year's result is not weighing on us; Debrecen have lost some players since then."

The prize money on offer for winning teams only increases the prestige of the UEFA Champions League for Levada, who said: "UEFA's help is substantial, so everyone – and not only top clubs – can make a step forward. We earned some money beating Wisła last term. If we had gone on to beat Debrecen, it would have been absolutely amazing."