Fulham’s players have been in training for a week, in preparation for their massive Europa League first qualifying round tie against NSI Runavik of the Faroe Islands.
Much of the pre match talk of NSI fielding a reserve team seems unfounded, as their starting line up suggests that they aren’t willing to take any chances against the minnows of the English Premier League. The Cottagers meanwhile have approached the game in a fairly nonchalant manner, including the likes of Damien Duff, Bobby Zamora, Aaron Hughes, and Andy Johnson in their starting XI.
Currently halfway through the 2011 Faroe Islands Premier League season, NSI Runavik should be the more prepared of the two teams, as they look to progress past the Europa League first round for the first time, having qualified for the competition every year so far. Currently lying fourth in the league – one spot away from qualifying for the 2012/13 Europa competition – Runavik will be looking to this game to bring some momentum to their league campaign. Their manager, Pauli Poulsen, would have liked to have had the home leg first, though, and will set his team up to limit the oppositions scoring chances, and take any opportunities they get from set pieces, or on the break.
The return leg on July 7th, will be played at the Faroe Islands national stadium – Tórsvøllur – in Tórshavn, as Runavik’s own imaginatively named Runavik Stadium doesn’t meet the UEFA requirements.
During the first half, Fulham took an unexpected lead thanks to a strike from Damien Duff, after a period of sustained pressure. Other than this, the constant but unimaginative Fulham attack was well marshalled by the Faroese defence, with their Hungarian goalkeeper – Andras Gango – having little to do in the way of saving shots.
Maybe part two if this will give you an analysis of the second half of this game, and some build up to the second leg – who knows.