Today, PSV are playing their first qualification match for the Europa League. Time to look at who their opponents actually are.
NK (Nogometni klub) Osijek was established in 1947 in the Republic of Yugoslavia, under the name NK Proleter, after the merging of the clubs NK Udarnik, NK Jedinstvo and NK Bratstvo. They changed the name to NK Slavonija in 1961 and then to NK Osijek in 1968. Since the second time they promoted to the highest division, in 1981, they have become a stable club in the elite class. The home kit colours are blue and white, away colours are white and blue, this season’s third away kit is red with black. The team’s fans are known as ‘Kohorta’.
NK Osijek’s main rivals are HNK Cibalia from Vinkovci, the match between the two is also known as the Slavonian derby. NK Osijek played their first European matches in 1994/1995. Their home stadium is the Stadion Gradski (City Garden) vrt, which they share with Fortuna VNO Osijek. This stadium was renovated in 2005 and 2010, and now has place for 22.050 visitors. In 2016, Hungarian businessman Lorinc Meszaros and Osijek citizen businessman Ivan Mestrovic bought most of the shares of the club and invested money in almost every segment. The building of a new stadium is underway.
NK Osijek never won a national title. The highest position they reached was a third position, Dinamo Zagreb and Hajduk Split simply are too big for them to beat. The only trophy they ever won was the national cup in 1999. They were also Cup finalists in 2012.
NK Osijek’s most famous player is Davor Šuker, who also played for Sevilla, Real Madrid, Arsenal, West Ham United and scored 45 goals in 69 matches for the national team. Another well known player is Danijel Pranjić, who played 161 matches for the Dutch Heerenveen in which he scored 39 goals as a midfielder. He then transferred to Bayern Munich and later played for Sporting Lissabon and Panathinaikos, among others.
Today, the team has several players that are active in the national team: Ante Cacic, Borna Barisic, Nikola Matas, Mateo Barac and Antonio Perosevic. The current most important player seems to be Muzafer Ejupi, the Macedonian striker that scored 14 competition goals last season. You can watch his highlights in this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QU7nXHSEM_g).
Road to Eindhoven in the Europa League 2017
NK Osijek played two matches in the Europa League to make it to Eindhoven. It appears they have more confidence at home, considering the 4-0 against Santa Coloma and the 2-0 against Luzern in round 1 and 2 of the Qualification thus far. Away they beat Coloma with 2-0 as well, but lost with 1-2 in Luzern.
No excuses for PSV
The Croatian competition is the 17th competition in Europe, this means PSV has no excuses and has to win both the home and away match against this opponent. In today’s press conference, coach Phillip Cocu said everybody in the selection is fit, but couldn’t say much about whether Hirving Lozano would make it to the pitch yet, because he joined the group later and still needs some adjustment. PSV’s youth product, Jorrit Hendrix, says the team has prepared for this match especially and that they have analysed NK Osijek well, but will rely on own strength. Midfielder Davy Pröpper agrees that supporters can expect more from PSV in the Europa League after having played in the Champions League two seasons in a row. ‘We have to beat them. We are obliged to that due to our status. Simple as that.’
Both the home (July 27th in Eindhoven) and away (August 3rd in Osijek) match will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1. The preview starts at 18:30h, kick-off is at 19:00h. The last tickets for the match at the Philips Stadium are available through this link: https://voetbal.iticketsro.com/PSV/
For Eindhoven News: Joey