Scotland’s remaining representatives in Europe – Rangers, Celtic and Hearts – learned their Europa League play-off fate today.
The draw was a mixed bag for the three sides, with Hearts given the hardest tie having being paired against English Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur. Rangers will face Slovenian champions NK Maribor, while Celtic will face Swiss Cup champions FC Sion.
Mark McDougall has produced a brief profile of each club.
Founded: 1882(originally as Hotspurs FC)
Stadium: White Hart Lane(capacity 36,310)
Manager: Harry Redknapp
Football League Division 1(2)
Football League Division 2(2)
Uefa Cup Winners Cup(1)
Key Player: Rafael Van Der Vaart
Tottenham have a squad filled with talent but the player Hearts will have to stop if they want to have any chance is former Real Madrid star Rafael Van Der Vaart. The Dutch international was revelation in the premier league last season and scored 13 goals in 28 appearances after moving from Real Madrid on deadline day for ?8m. Van Der Vaart has also been a regular in the Dutch national team since 2001, playing 90 games.
History in Europe:
Tottenham Hotspur have been successful in Europe with two Uefa Cup victories and a Uefa Cup Winners Cup victory. Spurs made the group stages of the Champions League last season for the first time in their history and reached the quarter finals of the tournament, before being defeated by Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid. Spurs have played 143 matches in Europe winning 81, drawn 29 and losing 33 – scoring 296 goals and conceding 150. In the Europa League(formerly Uefa Cup) they have played 86 games winning 51, drawn 20 and losing 15.
Nicknames: Vijoličasti (The Purples or The Violets).
Founded: Maribor are a relatively young club having been founded on the 12th of December 1960.
Stadium: Ljudski vrt Stadium
Manager: Darko Milanič
Milanič is a former Slovenian and Yugoslavian international who played 5 times for Yugoslavia and 42 times with Slovenia. Milanič played for Partizan Belgrade from 1986-1993 before signing for Sturm Graz were he played until he retired in 2000. Milanič was a defender during his career and enjoyed a successful playing career. Milanič took charge of Maribor in 2008 after previously being in charge of Nk Primorje and ND Gorica.
Yugoslavian 2nd league(1)
Yugoslavian 3rd league(5)
Maribor are the most succesful club in Slovenia.
Key Player: Marcos Tavares
Tavares is a Brazilian striker that the Rangers defence will have to watch carefully. Tavares signed for Maribor is 2008 and has had a successful career with the club. He was voted Slovenian leagues most valuable player by players and the media. As Maribor romped to Slovenian league title, Tavares scored 16 goals and was also top of the assist charts with 15 assists. Overall Tavares has 45 goals in 116 games for the club.
History in Europe:
Maribor are the only Slovenian team to play in the group stages of the Champions League but haven’t qualified for the group stages since 1999-2000. In the Europa League(formerly Uefa Cup), Maribor have played 28 matches, winning 8, drawing 7 and losing 13. In total they have played 84 games in Europe, winning 35, drawing 15 and losing 34 scoring 118 goals and conceding 122 in the process. Maribor have faced Scottish opposition twice, including playing Rangers once. In 2001-2002 Rangers beat Maribor 6-1 on aggregate and last season in the Europa League, Maribor beat Hibs 6-2 on aggregate.
Stadium: Stade Tourbillion (capacity 16,500)
Manager: Laurent Roussey
Roussey is a former French International striker having played two games for his country scoring 1 goal in 1982 during his time with St. Etienne where he won the french title in 1981. Roussey’s only other notable club was Toulouse.
Fc Sion hold the World Record for winning 12 cup finals out of 12, never losing a cup final.
Key Player: Pascal Feindoundo
Feindoundo is a player that will be known to Celtic fans(and Rangers fans) as he was on trial at both clubs last summer. Feindoundo’s career has went downhill since he left St. Etienne but after signing for Sion in the summer he will be hoping to get his career back on track. The Guinean winger has been highly rated throughout his career and has 49 caps for his country scoring 29 goals. Feindoundo has been unable to play this season, due to a row between Sion and the Swiss FA although Sion recently won a court case forcing the Swiss FA to register Feindoundo and 5 other players including ex Hearts defender Jose Goncalves.
History in Europe:
Fc Sion have played in European matches 68 times, 30 of which have come in the Europa League(formerly Uefa Cup) winning 24 (11 in Europa League), drawing 17(6 in Europa league) and losing 27(13 n Europa League) scoring 98 goals and conceding 121 in the process.