Dundalk Vs Rapid Vienna - Another Famous Night for Irish Soccer
While this month’s international break provided plenty of cross-continental action – and not much joy, if we’re honest! – there’s more to come, this time on the club side. Dundalk, our lone representatives in European competition this season, resume their Europa League campaign on Thursday, welcoming Rapid Vienna to the handsome surrounds of the Aviva Stadium.
You’ll catch the game on Thursday from 7.30pm on Virgin Media Two and Virgin Media Sport (Virgin TV 105 and Virgin TV 400) – but there’s a way to get even closer to the action! Record a video of your good luck message for the boys (shot horizontally, please!) and share it on Twitter using #VMVirtualFanzone, and you might see your clip used on TV during the pre-match build up!
And whether you spot yourself ahead of kick-off or not, there’s plenty to look out for when the whistle blows…
WE MEET AGAIN
The sides collided earlier in the group stage of the competition, and it was one for the ages. A two-penalty, seven-goal thriller – including five strikes in the closing 16 minutes – was footballing drama at its very finest, with the Irish side eventually emerging on the wrong side of a 4-3 scoreline. While a repeat of those fireworks might not be likely, there’s certainly unfinished business for Filippo Giovagnoli’s side…
While Shamrock Rovers’ 2011 adventure guarantees their spot as the first Irish side to make the group stage of a European competition, Dundalk remain the only Irish side to win in a tournament proper – a famous 1-0 victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2016. In fact, the Europa League record for Irish clubs isn’t a pretty sight – 13 losses in 15 games, with a single draw to round things out – so a win for Dundalk would be a red-letter day for football in this country!
EYES OF GREEN
Former Dundalk boss Stephen Kenny has already shown he has no qualms in selecting players from the domestic league to join his national squad – and with the likes of Jack Byrne, Graham Burke and Aaron McEneff involved as recently as last week, you can guarantee there’ll be Lilywhites players who’d love to join the Shamrock Rovers trio in the gaffer’s future plans. A major European night is a great time to lay down a marker…
OUR SPECIAL GUESTS
While Rapid’s lineup doesn’t quite have the familiarity of, say, the Arsenal contingent who’ll be following in two weeks’ time, there are more than a few names worth noting. Dejan Petrovic, Taxiarchis Fountas and Koya Kitagawa have all donned the international colours for Slovenia, Greece and Japan respectively, while defender Max Ullmann has recently been called up to the Austrian squad. Not every day there’s an Irish club facing off against that quality!
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