Our prediction for this Europa League match:
Ibrox Stadium will host Thursday’s football game between Glasgow Rangers and Maribor. The Gers set up a meeting with the Violets by beating Osijek in the two-legged tie and it has to be noted that new coach Steven Gerard has yet to suffer a loss with the Scottish side. Glasgow Rangers are a real force to be reckoned with at home, but given Maribor’s experience in European competitions, we are not tempted to put our money on the hosts. The Slovenian side, on the other hand, outplayed Chikhura in the Europa League second qualifying round, with the team managing to keep their sixth consecutive clean sheet in all competitions. Seeing that the Gers have been impressive at the back of late as well, we predict that fans will see a low-scoring game on Thursday evening. A close encounter is on the cards and there is every chance the two teams will share the spoils in the first leg.
Highlighted Player (Luka Zahovic):
Luka Zahovic is the son of legendary Slovenian footballer Zlatko Zahovic. Luka Zahovic played for the likes of Valencia, Benfica and Pobrezje during his youth career before joining Maribor in 2009. The talented attacker, who was born in Guimaraes, Portugal on November 15, 1995, scored 13 goals in 45 appearances for Slovenian side in the national championship and in 2015 he moved to Netherlands, signing a three-year-old deal with Heerenveen.
In August, 2016, he returned to Maribor, signing a loan deal with his boyhood club and in May, 2017 he signed a permanent deal with the Violets. Speaking of his international career, Luka Zahovic represented Slovenia U17 at the 2012 European Championship and it has to be noted that he found the net in a 3-1 defeat to Netherlands.
Unlike his father, Luka’s preferred foot is right. His main position is centre-forward, but he is used as a secondary striker as well. Luka Zahovic has a deal with Maribor which should expire on May 31, 2020.
Highlighted Team (Maribor):
Founded in December 1960, Maribor are the most successful Slovenian club. The Violets won their 14th SNL trophy in 2017, with the team finishing the season 13 points clear of second-placed Gorica. Maribor are the only Slovenian club which made it to the UEFA Champions League group stages (2013/2014), but the likes of Chelsea, Schalke and Sporting Lisbon proved to be a big catch for the Slovenian champions.
The Violets collected only three points from possible 18 in the process and four years later they repeated the success, with the team eliminating Hapoel Be’er Sheva in the Champions League play-offs. Maribor will face the likes of Spartak Moscow, Sevilla and Liverpool in Group E. Speaking of the club’s main rivals, there have always been fireworks in clashes between Maribor and Olimpija Ljubljana.
The two teams face each other in the “Eternal derby” (Vecni derbi) and they represent the two biggest cities in Slovenia. Maribor are well known for their violet for their violet shirts with yellow stripes. Ljudski vrt is the club’s home ground.