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ST PATS' OPPONENTS: ZALGIRIS (Lithuania)

WHO ARE THEY?

Traditionally the top club in Lithuania, who had the odd appearance in the top flight in the old USSR league, they went through hard times recently, went broke, dropped into the second tier with a slightly-changed name, and only qualified for Europe this season as Cup winners.

ANY FAMOUS NAMES?

They have a fair sprinkling of current Lithuania internationals and a few imports but no stand-out player. Polish coach Marek Zub is their manager.

CURRENT FORM?

Excellent form domestically, like the League of Ireland their championship is at the half-way stage and Zalgiris are on top, three points ahead of Ekranas (the side who knocked out Shamrock Rovers last season).

EUROPEAN RECORD? Very poor. Zalgiris usually struggle to get through more than two rounds in Europe, their best display was way back in Soviet times (1989) when they knocked out Gothenburg. In general, they can overcome opposition from so-called small countries (they regularly beat Northern Ireland teams) but then struggle.

GOOD DRAW FOR THE FANS?

Okay draw for Pats fans, certainly Vilnius is more accessible and cheaper to reach than recent destinations in places like Russia, Kazakhstan and Iceland. And Vilnius is a pleasant place to spend a few days in July.

HAVE PATS A CHANCE?

They'd be rated as 50/50 for this tie. Pats have the advantage of vast European experience for players like Ger O'Brien, Killian Brennan, Ian Bermingham and Conor Kenna, they will be at 'home' in Richmond Park (not Tallaght Stadium) for the first two rounds. But Shamrock Rovers struggled against Lithuanian opposition last season, so a chance for Pats at least.


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