In his second UEFA Cup diary piece, Patrick Kluivert ponders the threat posed by ŠKM Púchov.
In his second diary piece for uefa.com, FC Barcelona's Patrick Kluivert looks forward to his club's UEFA Cup second leg tie against ŠKM Púchov and the Netherlands' UEFA EURO 2004™ play-off against Scotland.
By Patrick Kluivert
No one at Barcelona was delighted with our 1-1 draw against Púchov last month but it was certainly not a terrible result. Perhaps they were lucky to score so late in the game but it was a difficult examination for us and we know we will have to pay them due respect in the second leg in the Camp Nou this week.
Because Púchov's own ground does not have floodlights, we played in another stadium but their fans made it feel and sound like their own. I think there were about 20,000 fans at the match but it sounded and felt like many more and it obviously motivated their players. We expected them to play the game of their season against us and that was exactly how it seemed.
Sense of relief
It is always a different challenge to play in countries like Slovakia and against sides you are not familiar with. There is always a sense of relief to come away from such places with a safe result and hope for the second leg.
No easy task
The Púchov player who stood out for me was the striker Mário Breška, who gave us problems all night. He was strong and very quick and we spoke after the game about how we would have to be wary of him in the second leg. Of course, we will be favourites to reach the second round but I do not believe it will be as easy as some have predicted.
Unfortunately, I am not certain I will play in the second leg. I injured my knee during Holland's win over Moldova on Saturday and at the moment I am not sure whether I will recover in time to play. I saw specialists on Monday and Tuesday but there is little more I can do now than wait and see how my body feels.
On Monday, the draw for the EURO 2004™ play-offs paired the Netherlands with Scotland. We knew before Saturday's round of matches that there would be some serious opposition in the play-offs and while I certainly consider Scotland to be serious opposition, it won't surprise anyone when I say we would prefer to play them than Spain, Croatia or Turkey.
I have not seen Scotland play for a long time but I know they play in a typical British style. It will not be the first time we have faced a team with this mentality but teams with that kind of passion and technique can never be written off. We will expect to beat Scotland, but we know it will not be easy.
I think it will be a big advantage for us to play the second leg at home in Holland. Sometimes people make mistakes and it is better to make your mistakes in the first leg away from home because there is still time to put things right in the second match.
Missing out on the 2002 FIFA World Cup finals was a horrible experience for everyone in the Netherlands and all the players know we cannot afford to fail again this time. Scotland teams are known for their passion and fighting spirit but this time they will face a Dutch side with just as much fight.