BBC Sport football


Related BBC sites

Page last updated at 21:23 GMT, Tuesday, 27 July 2010 22:23 UK

Shamrock Rovers ready to face Juventus in Europa League

The queue for tickets outside Tallaght Stadium
Shamrock Rovers fans wait their turn to buy the sought-after tickets for the Europa League clash with Juventus

By Stephen Fottrell
BBC Sport

When Ireland's Shamrock Rovers hosted Real Madrid last summer for a pre-season friendly, the notion of taking on another of Europe's aristocracy in a competitive game would have been a fanciful one.

But that is exactly what the Dublin-based League of Ireland side now face as they prepare to host Juventus in a Europa League qualifying tie on Thursday night.

The match-up is one of the biggest European games ever for an Irish club side.

The Dubliners set up the glamour tie after beating Israel's Bnei Yehuda 2-1 on aggregate, with former Derry City striker Thomas Stewart's goal securing an away victory in their second leg in Tel Aviv last week.

Thomas Stewart
Thomas Stewart's goal against Bnei Yehuda put Shamrock Rovers through

Since then, they have been scrambling to ready their recently-built Tallaght Stadium on Dublin's south side for the visit of the two-time European champions.

Uefa have restricted the ground's capacity to 6,000, after refusing Rovers' request to install additional seating, presenting Juve's team of seasoned internationals with something of a culture shock.

One man who is expected to take his place among that crowd is Republic of Ireland manager and former Juventus boss Giovanni Trapattoni, who knows all too well the potential pitfalls in taking a team of superstars to face an Irish side.

Trapattoni's AC Milan were held 0-0 by Athlone Town in the Uefa Cup in 1975 - an experience which is still fresh in the 71-year-old veteran's mind .

"From my own experience of Athlone, it is definitely not a game or place [Ireland] that any Italian team should underestimate going to," Trapattoni said.

"Juventus have better players but Shamrock Rovers are organised and will be well motivated as they are in the middle of their season.

Giovanni Trapattoni
Irish boss Giovanni Trapattoni used to manage Juventus

"That will count for a lot in the game and I am sure Juventus will not underestimate them.

"Players like [Alessandro] Del Piero can change a game in a split second with a piece of skill. But if Rovers are not overawed by the challenge, then they can have a chance."

Many may see it as a step too far for the Irish side, but Juventus manager Luigi Del Neri may have already heeded Trapattoni's advice as he has warned against complacency.

"The next round in the Europa League is not a given because we'll be playing 11 against 11," Del Neri said.

"To face a tough team from a tough league like the Irish one - nothing is already decided."

Rovers stand to make around €400,000 ($520,000, £330,000) over the two legs, from gate receipts and television rights - a tidy sum for a side who were struggling to survive just a few years ago in a league short on funds.

Manager Michael O'Neill sees the tie as a just reward for a club who only five years ago were playing in Ireland's second tier.

"The club deserves it," he said.

Shamrock Rovers manager Michael O'Neill
Michael O'Neill's Shamrock Rovers face mighty Juventus

"When you come to Rovers you can sense what it means to the club, what it means to bring success to the club and the players are desperate for that. I'm desperate for it and I think we're going the right way about it."

O Neill will look to Craigavon-born Stewart to continue his fine run of form up front, along with former Linfield keeper Alan Mannus, who is also enjoying a good season in goal.

Should they manage to inspire their side to a result in the first leg, they may fancy their chances of going one better in the return leg, which is being played in Modena's Stadio Alberto Braglia, which itself has a capacity of just 19,000.

The Italians were forced to change the venue at the last minute as the Stadio Olimpico was already booked out by Rovers' fellow Dubliners U2 - a quirk of fate which may yet see them thank their city-folk for if they manage to capitalise on their hosts' unfamiliar surroundings.

Print Sponsor

see also
Reaching for the Real stars
15 Jul 09 |  Football
From Madrid to Dublin
14 Jul 09 |  Football
Real superstars train in Ireland
10 Jul 09 |  Northern Ireland

related internet links:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2020 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.