Champions Valletta take on Hungarian giants Ferencvárosi TC of Hungary in the first leg of the second qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League at the Groupama Arena – Ferencvaros Stadion – in Budapest on Wednesday, kick-off at 20:00.
Valletta secured a place in this round thanks to a 2-2 draw away from home and a 1-1 draw at the Centenary Stadium against F91 Dudelange of Luxembourg. On the other hand, Ferencvaros defeated Ludogorets Razgrad of Bulgaria with a 5-3 aggregate score after beating them 2-1 at home and 3-2 away from home.
It will definitely be a difficult game for Darren Abdilla’s side but the Citizens will be all out to get a good result in this first leg in order to maintain alive hopes of qualifying for the next round of the competition.
The squad travelled to Budapest on Monday morning, holding a training session later in the day and another two sessions on Tuesday.
Ferencvárosi Torna Club won the championship 30 times, finished runners-up 35 times, won the Cup 23 times, the Super Cup six times and the League Cup twice. They also won the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (later known as UEFA Cup and UEFA Europa League) in 1964/65, finishing as finalists in the same competition in 1968 and the Cup Winners Cup in 1975. Last season, they won the championship with 74 points from 33 matches, thirteen ahead of runners-up Vidi and twenty thee ahead of third placed Debrecen.
Ferencvaros have already eliminated three Maltese clubs in past years. In 1972, they were drawn with Floriana in the Cup Winners’ Cup, defeating the Greens 6-0 in Budapest after Floriana won the first leg 1-0. In 2003, Ferencvaros were paired with Birkirkara in the UEFA Cup with the Fradi winning 5-0 at Ta’ Qali and 1-0 in Budapest. In 2014, Ferencvaros were drawn with Sliema Wanderers in the UEFA Europa League – the first leg ending in a 1-1 draw with Ferencvaros winning 2-1 at home.
The second leg will be played at the Centenary Stadium on Tuesday 30.
The team which qualifies from this round would reach the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League where they would meet GNK Dinamo Zagreb of Croatia or FC Saburtalo Tbilisi of Georgia. Dinamo Zagreb defeated Saburtalo 2-0 away from home in the first leg.
On the other hand, the team which is eliminated would move on to the third qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League where they would face the winner of the clash between FC Santa Coloma of Andorra and Astana FC of Kazakhstan.