O'Neill under no illusions as Hoops gear up for Euro clash
Published 15/08/2011 | 05:00
SHAMROCK ROVERS manager Michael O'Neill is under no illusions about the task facing his team in Europe this week after a scouting mission to Serbia on Saturday night.
O'Neill watched Europa League play-off opponents Partizan Belgrade stroll to a 5-0 victory over Novi Pazar and believes they are technically superior to the FC Copenhagen side which ended the Dubliners' Champions League ambitions.
The Hoops will qualify for the group stages of the Europa League if they can eliminate the Serbian champions -- who also exited the premier competition at the third qualifying round stage.
Partizan visit Tallaght for Thursday's first leg before the return in Belgrade seven days later.
"They were impressive," said O'Neill. "It was a 5-0 win, but the opposition had a man sent off at 2-0.
"It will be a great experience for us, and it's one we have everything to gain from.
"They're very good on the ball, especially in midfield, and good up front with a young Brazilian and young Serbian striker and two full-backs that push on.
"They actually reminded me a bit of Copenhagen to be honest. Maybe a bit more attack-minded in midfield and a bit better technically."
Nevertheless, the Northern Irishman believes there are reasons to be optimistic.
"The opposition were poor to be honest, they didn't really try to attack and showed no ambition. After they went 3-0 down, they raised the white flag.
"But what we've learnt in the last two years is that continental teams don't like some things that we do so we can work on that. I did see areas that we could expose."
O'Neill's charges will enter the tie in confident mood after knocking six goals past UCD with an emphatic second-half display on Friday night.