Progres vs Ufa – Thursday, August 16, 16:00 BST/17:00 CEST – Stade Municipal de la Ville de Differdange, Differdange, Luxembourg
Progrès Niederkorn were one of the great unknowns just one year ago. Back in 2017 Progrès beat Scottish side Rangers in the first qualifying round of the 2017/18 UEFA Europa League.
The club from Niederkorn, Luxembourg, overcame a 1–0 defeat at Ibrox with a 2-0 win at the Stade Jos Haupert, having scored only once before in European competition. It was the club’s first ever victory in a European club competition.
This year Progrès have eliminated the Azeri side Qabala and the legendary Hungarian club Honvéd to reach the third qualifying round against Russian side FC Ufa. There in the capital of Bashkortostan Progrès did well scoring the all-important away goal in their 2-1 defeat.
That away goal means that everything is still to play for when the tie heads to Luxembourg on Thursday. Reaching the playoffs would be a historic success for the Luxembourg based side.
Progrès are, however, not the only side looking to write history. Ufa are currently embarking on their first ever European campaign, and after eliminating Domžale in the second qualifying round, the Russians want to complete the job and reach the playoffs.
Reaching that stage of the tournament would be a significant step for a club that has been one of the best run small clubs in the Russian Federation. It would also allow new head coach Sergey Tomarov, who replaced Sergey Semak this summer, to further establish his starting eleven.
Tomarov, in fact, had a decent start to the season with his new side. Ufa collected four points out of the first three Russian Premier Liga matches and only suffered their first defeat this weekend in a 1-0 loss to Krasnodar.
Krasnodar, however, are one of the strongest sides in Russia and Ufa were competitive throughout and with the weekend’s performance should have enough to advance to the playoffs.
Progres vs Ufa – Players to look out for:
Emmanuel Francoise #14 – Progrès Niederkorn
The Frenchman is the dangerman for the Luxembourg outfit for obvious reasons. His raw pace is lethal from out on the left wing, especially when combined with his strength. A relatively low centre of gravity makes him extremely hard to knock off the ball even when he is not in full flow. In tight spaces, he is confident enough to take players on directly, and while Ufa play with a packed defensive block, they will need to be wary of Francoise if they want to keep a clean sheet heading into the second leg.
Ivan Paurević #19 – Ufa
The giant Croatian defensive midfielder had a failed spell in England with Huddersfield Town but returned straight back to where he belongs. His physical frame is imposing in his role, and he also offers a lot more than just brute strength. His passing is decent enough to involve the more talented ball players. His height is a major threat at set pieces, which his goals tally of five from last season attests to; only top goalscorer Sylvester Igboun managed more.
Progres vs Ufa – Match Stats
- Ufa lost their first match of the season on the weekend – a 1-0 defeat to Krasnodar
- Progrès Niederkorn are already further into European competition than they have ever been before
- Progrès have lost three of their last four competitive matches
- Of their eleven total European away fixtures, they have lost ten, and racked up a collective goal difference of four scored and 34 conceded
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Progres vs Ufa – 0-2
Progres vs Ufa – Lineups
Flauss – Martins, Hall, Ferino, Gobron – Oliver Thill, Sebastian Thill, Mutsch – Françoise, De Almeida, Karapetian
Manager: Paolo Amodio
Belenov – Zhivoglyadov, Tumasyan, Tabidze, Nedelcearu, Jokic – Paurevic, Salatic, Oblyakov – Igboun, Fatai
Manager: Sergey Tomarov
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.