HNK Rijeka v The New Saints FC – Match Preview

Following last Tuesday’s 3-1 victory against Europa FC in Portugal, the TNS European journey continues with a trip to Croatia, as we take on the national champions, HNK Rijeka.

Scheduled for Tuesday, July 11, with a local (Croatia is one hour ahead of the UK) 20.45 kick-off time, the game is the first-leg of the Champions League Qualifying Round 2 tie.

Situated on Kvarner Bay, off the Adriatic, Rijeka is the third-largest city in Croatia, and in 2016 was selected as the European Capital Of Culture, alongside Galway.

HNK Rijeka (Croatian Football Club Rijeka, in English) began life in 1946, with a name change in 1954 and the addition of nationality in 1995, following the break-up of Yugoslavia and its own independence as a nation.

Since August 2015, the club has been based at Stadion Rujevica (Stadium CFC Rijeka, in English, where Tuesday’s game is being played), following the demolition of their previous ground, Stadion Kantrida. Work is currently in progress that will take the capacity of their eventual home to 14,000 upon completion.

Having finished runners-up to Dinamo Zagreb in the three campaigns from 2014/2015, the Whites as they are known, finally won their first league title last season. They pipped their rivals by just two points over a 36-game season, losing just twice and drawing seven times in the process.

With echoes of last week’s opponents Europa FC and their breaking of Lincoln Red Imps’ stranglehold on the Gibraltar Premier League, likewise Rijeka’s success ended a run of eleven consecutive titles for Dinamo Zagreb.

Listed 125th in UEFA’s coefficient ranking, with 15.550 points, HNK Rijeka have played a total of 64 European ties, winning 23, drawing 17 and losing 24 in the process. Having scored 83 goals and conceded 77, their goal difference is +6.

Welsh football fans with a long memory may recall that in 1978/1979 they played – and beat – Wrexham in the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup 3-2 on aggregate, with a 3-0 home victory and a 2-0 defeat on the road.

In more recent years – 2015/2016 to be precise – they lost to Scotland’s Aberdeen 5-2 on aggregate.

Their most successful European season to date was in 78/79 when they reached the quarter-finals, before eventually losing 2-0 to Italian giants, Juventus,

You can follow all the action from Croatia via TNS Radio. A link will appear here on the TNS website, ahead of kick-off. All you need to do is click and listen. As always, we look forward to your company.