Our prediction for this Europa League match:
Partizani play host to Maribor at Stadiumi Selman Stermasi in the first leg of the Europa League first qualifying round. Partizani struggle in European competitions and it is important to note that they recorded only one win in previous 15 games in the Europa League. However, it is well known that Albanian teams are tough to beat at home and, no doubt, Skender Gega’s men are capable of making life difficult for Maribor in the first leg. The Violets, on the other hand, head into Thursday’s football game following a 2-1 win over Serbian side Cukaricki and they seem to be on top of their game ahead of their Europa League debut. However, seeing that they are not regarded as good travelers, we are tempted to put our money on draw. A man to watch in the away team will be experienced attacker Marcos Tavares, who is not getting any older.
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.