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Champions League | First Qualifying Round | 1st Leg
Jul 10, 2024 at 6pm UK
Stadion Pasienky

Slovan Bratislava
4 - 2

Weiss (16'), Mak (36'), Kucka (85', 90+1')
j. Weiss (64'), Jevtoski (86'), Krivanjeva (90+4')
FT(HT: 2-0)
Ibraimi (55' pen., 74')
Bajric (87'), Krivanjeva (90+4')

Preview: Slovan Bratislava vs. Struga - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Slovan Bratislava vs. Struga - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Wednesday's Champions League clash between Slovan Bratislava and Struga, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Slovan Bratislava and Struga will both kick off their Champions League campaigns on Wednesday, when they meet at the Tehelne pole in the first leg of a first-qualifying-round tie.

The hosts fell short in qualifying in the third round last year, eventually settling for a place in the Europa Conference League, while their visitors missed out on a spot in the group stage of Europe's tertiary competition in the playoff round in 2023.

Match preview

Slovan Bratislava will kick off their latest Champions League qualifying bid on Wednesday with the bid of advancing to the main competition for the first time in their history, having failed to make it past the third round in any of their five attempts over the last five seasons.

Following first-round and second-round qualifying exits between the 2019-20 season and the 2022-23 campaign, the Slovakian outfit set out to go further last year, and they did progress to the third round with aggregate wins over Swift Hesperange and Zrinjski Mostar, only to fall short of reaching a playoff having suffered a 5-2 aggregate defeat to Maccabi Haifa last August.

An unsuccessful Europa League playoff tie against Aris Limassol then followed, with Vladimir Weiss's side again dropping out following a 7-4 loss across two legs, but they did manage to salvage a creditable European campaign nonetheless, entering the Europa Conference League and progressing to the knockout round playoffs by earning 10 points in the group stage.

That run was then put to an end by a 5-1 aggregate beating at the hands of Austrian outfit Sturm Graz, but the Belasi sealed their return to continental competition once again for the upcoming term by winning their sixth consecutive Slovak Super Liga title in the 2023-24 season, finishing top of the Championship group on 73 points from their 32 outings, 15 clear of second spot.

Slovan Bratislava will now look to build on that latest triumph and put another run together in Champions League qualifying this term with their sights set on the new-look league phase, beginning by making home advantage count in Wednesday's first leg and taking a lead in their first-round tie.

In their way stand a visiting team who will kick off just a second-ever bid to reach Europe's premier competition on Wednesday, having fallen short of any group-stage football last time around.

Indeed, last year's attempt was Struga's second qualifying campaign for any continental football, having won the Macedonian First League title for the first time in the 2022-23 season after their 2015 formation.

That bid was short-lived, having dropped out in the first qualifying round at the hands of FK Zalgiris, before advancing towards the Europa Conference League group stage with aggregate triumphs over Buducnost Podgorica and Swift Hesperange, only to fall at the final hurdle in a 2-0 defeat to Breidablik over two legs.

It would not be a season without glory for them, though, having gone on to retain their Macedonian top-flight crown, finishing the campaign under the temporary stewardship of Meriton Gega in May, following Shpetim Duro's departure, and pipping Shkendija to top spot thanks to superior head-to-head results having both finished on 64 points.

Now heading into the 2024-25 term under the new leadership of Qatip Osmani with the aim of lifting the First League trophy for the third straight campaign and progressing through European qualifying for the first time in their history, Struga will look to start on the front foot in their first-leg contest in Slovakia on Wednesday before returning to Macedonia for the reverse fixture next week.

Team News

While Slovan Bratislava were without several important players during their pre-season preparations due to international duty, they should have a full squad to call on on Wednesday, with Cesar Blackman's Panama side having exited the Copa America while the departures of Georgia and Slovakia from Euro 2024 leave defender Guram Kashia, midfielder Juraj Kucka and striker David Strelec in contention.

Strelec will continue to lead their line, having made his loan move from Spezia permanent after netting 14 goals across all competitions in his loan spell last season, while Tigran Barseghyan is another danger man on the wing having scored a team-high tally of 15 goals last term.

Veteran Kucka will contend with Marko Tolic and Kyriakos Savvidis to start in midfield, while Kashia could join Kenan Bajric and former Tottenham Hotspur man Kevin Wimmer in a back three.

Struga may line up in a 5-3-2 setup for Wednesday's first leg, and they have a strike force to be wary of, with 37-year-old Besart Ibraimi having notched up 22 goals last season.

He will continue to partner Marjan Radeski, who hit 18 of his own across all competitions, while captain Bunjamin Shabani should offer further support through the centre having been a mainstay last term.

Behind him, captain Flamur Tairi and 19-year-old Bekim Kamberi may partner up in the engine room, while Besart Krivanjeva and Sava Radic should continue at the heart of the defence after all playing key roles in the title-winning season.

Slovan Bratislava possible starting lineup:
Trnocsky; Bajric, Kashia, Wimmer; Blackman, Tolic, Kucka, Vojtko; Barseghyan, Strelec, Marcelli

Struga possible starting lineup:
Kjosevski; Vlajkovic, Radic, Krivanjeva, Ristevski, H Tairi; F Tairi, Shabani, Kamberi; Ibraimi, Radeski

We say: Slovan Bratislava 3-0 Struga

While Struga head into another exciting qualifying campaign with momentum from their recent league win, Slovan Bratislava boast more quality throughout their ranks and should make the most of home advantage to move well clear in their first-round tie.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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