They traveled to Liege in the premiere of the groups towards a positive result and seemed perfectly capable to leave from Belgium with the draw. In the last quarter they had no power left and conceded two goals. However, they proved that they are, under no circumstances, not going to be a “punching bag” in the group.
The defeat left it’s… scars to the psychology of the team, as four days later, they were defeated at the derby against Dinamo, which was their first defeat at “Kantrida” since May of 2013!
The intervening week has been positive for the team of Matjaz Kek, which “healed” their wounds and within 46 minutes they grabbed the win against Zagreb, improving their psychology for the second round of Europa League.
Croatians will make their home premiere tonight in the groups for this year and it will be hard not to see a sold out at “Kantrida”. They have nine unbeatable consecutive matches in the European competitions (6 wins – 3 draws), while at the last year’s corresponding group stage they had given three draws as hosts. In fact, the opponents from Spain and especially from Seville, as the previous season they had faced Real Betis and got a goalless draw in the Iberian, while draw was also confirmed in Rijeka’s match.
Brazilian midfielder Moises was hurt in the championship match (11/5 in all competitions) and his participation will be judged just before the game.
They had an abnormal landing on Saturday at “Calderon”. Atletico imposed on them with the emphatic 4-0 while at the same time they were “demolished” from the top of the Spanish league. A proof of superiority for the champions, although the extent of the score is excessive. Having passive attitude at the start Sevilla went with a two goals handicap at halftime and finished the match with two easy goals in the last 10 minutes.
“Atletico showed that they are better” coach Unai Emery admitted while his team was coming from five consecutive wins in Spain and Europe. In the group’s premiere they achieved an easy 2-0 (8′, 31′) against Feyenoord at “Sanchez Pizjuan”.
The Basque coach has not opened his cards, but it is assumed that he intends to refresh the lineup in tonight’s match. Barbosa (goalkeeper), Gameiro (striker) and long-term absentee Cristoforo (midfielder) are again in the injury list. On Sunday, in the league they play at home against Deportivo La Coruna.
“There is nothing wrong doing a bad game. We respect Rijeka, we have experienced the Europa League firsthand and we know the difficulties. There are teams that face you by giving the maximum of their power. It is a difficult match, at which Rijeka has only three defeats in the last 25 games” the Basque coach said in yesterday’s press conference.
In last year’s attempt to win the Cup they had an away record of five wins, two draws and two defeats. In the group they remained unbeaten, while all their three away matches confirmed the reasonable goal range “2-3”.