Lokomotiv Moscow will enter their opening Europa League clash of the year in favorite mode as they take on Spartka Trnava from Slovakia.
Spartak Trnava do have some experience against Russian teams, although their last encounter was back in 1974 when the Slovakian side defeated Soviet team Zarya to qualify for the quarter-final of the European Cup.
That victory, incidentally, remains the team’s biggest achievement on the European stage.
Slovak coach agrees that Loko are favorites, but says his men have a chance of success if they produce good team play.
Though Lokomotiv are yet to make a major impact on the European football scene, the Muscovites’ continental success is far more impressive then that of their opponents.
Twice champions of Russia, they reached the semi-finals of the now defunct European Cup Winners Cup twice in the ’90s, and had a brief spell in the Champions’ League in 2004.
The Railwaymen are considered hot favorites in this tie, with the Russian side yet to lose a match under new head coach Jose Couceiro.
“If you win 1-0, for example, it’s going to be a good result. If you win 2-0 it’ll be a very good result. It you win 3-0 it’s excellent. If you win without goals against, it is good,” the Lokomotiv boss observed.
No matter who the pundits favor in this Europa League play-off, one thing is certain – and that is that the two sides know very little about each other.
The fact that Lokomotiv are playing the first leg at home could be to their advantage, but only if they score two or more goals here in Moscow.
However, if the visitors from Slovakia manage to walk away with a draw or perhaps even a win in the Russian capital, then the outcome of the return leg in Trnava will become highly unpredictable for both sides.