Often Partisan

Maribor Preview

Tomorrow sees the return of the welcome distraction of the Europa League, and a trip to Slovenia for Birmingham City to take on NK Maribor.

NK Maribor

I will freely admit, I don’t know that much about our opponents. They won the Slovene title last season, and currently lead the Slovene top flight after eleven games – but they lost their last league game 2-0 to relegation-threatened side Nafta Lendava – and this was at home. Judging by the teamsheet they put out a full strength team as well, so it could be that Blues have a chance.

Maribor have quite a few good young players; 22 year old Slovene international Etien Velikonja is joint top goalscorer in the Slovene league, and along with 24 year old Dalibor Volaš and 20 year old Slovene youth international Robert Berič they have quite the potent forward line. They also have a Viler in defence, although in fairness this is 25 year old left back Mitja Viler.

Birmingham City

Tom Ross has said on twitter that Stephen Carr and Curtis Davies will both miss the trip to Slovenia with knocks – which was confirmed this morning by the official BCFCdotcom twitter account. Neither is surprising; Davies took a whack on the calf during the Barnsley game and Carr just doesn’t look at the races at the moment.

If this was indeed the case, I’d expect Spector to slot in at right back (no Stuart Parnaby alas), Pablo at centre back and I hope that David Murphy is allowed to continue his renaissance at left back. I guess we could see the return of N’Daw or Gomis to the team in midfield, but I would like to see Wade Elliott given another run after he did so well on Saturday, and with a bit of luck Nikola Zigic will be given a longer run up front.

Away games are notoriously difficult in Europe, and with this in mind I think that the best we can hope for is a draw. That being said, I think Blues do have a chance and if they can play as they did in the last ten minutes against Barnsley (or the last half hour or so against Braga) then we could do well. It’s all about finishing our chances.

Thanks to those wonderful people at Sport Options, I will be travelling out to Maribor on Thursday to see the game myself; I have no idea how internet access will work but I hope to post something from an internet cafe out there on the day to give you all some idea of the vibe in Slovenia.

Dalibor Volaš

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5 Responses to “Maribor Preview”

  • Mark says:

    This would give blues a great lift if we can win out there, you are right about one thing we need to make sure when chances come along we stick them away. CH needs to keep telling the players this……….then results will come.. Have a nice trip come on you blue boys the match is on ESPN….KRO

  • Shaun says:

    ESPN Classic has got the Blues game on. ESPN has the celtic game. Just in case of any confusion

  • Bazzathebluenose says:

    Anyone know what channel number ESPN Classic is on Virgin? SKY?


  • Bazzathebluenose says:

    Found it; it’s 533 on Virgin 429 on SKY – Phew! that’s a relief ;-)

  • Personally I think that with Forest in some disarray at the moment, the priority should be getting our first Championship away win on Sunday. We only have 2 days to recover from Thursday’s game and prepare for that, so I would hope CH makes some big team changes and not risk too much for a result in Europe. I do hope all the travelling fans have a good time, but I won’t be too disappointed not to get a result there.

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