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Meeting The Opposition: NK Maribor

First ever European home game. Lets say that one more time first ever European home game. Sounds good doesn't it? Well its time to take a look at the guys we will be facing and some of the pedigree they poses as a football club.

Ross Kinnaird

NK Maribor, founded in 1960, is Slovenia's most successful footballing team. To date they have won eleven league titles, eight Slovenian cup titles and three Supercup titles. That is not to mention all the runner up medals that are knocking around as well. They are truly the Goliath of Slovenian football.

As such they have got very good European experience competing in both Champions League and Europa League competitions. They are the only team from Slovenia to compete in the group stages for both competitions, but for themselves that is as far as they have gotten having to qualified further in the completions.

During the history of the region, when Yugoslavia was still one country, Maribor played for a period in the top Yugoslavia division, before being relegated and then remaining in the second division, they would never reach the dizzy heights of the top division again.

After surviving relegation to the third tier of Yugoslavian football in 1981, it became apparent that club officials had been bribing officials and players. The Yugoslavian FA took the decision to relegate the club to the third division as a punishment and there they continued to yo-yo between the third and second tiers until Slovenian independence in 1991.

Maribor went onto be one of the founding members of the Slovenia League, yet they would not go on to dominate the early years of the new domestic competitions. They would win the first Slovenian Cup (1992), but no other honors would follow until the 1996/97 season when they stormed to the League title and began their domestic dominance.

A short spell of eight years followed until 2004 when the club struggled financial due to mismanagement. Players left and coaches floated around as the club rebuilt itself and tried to clear a debt of around 4 million euros. In 2008 it was announced the club had successfully done this and they could now start to fight again for domestic honors.

They went to win four of the next five league titles. Last season they won the Slovenian league treble, the supercup, league and cup, storming to victory and into the Champions League qualifying. Viktoria Plzeň stood in the way of a group stage draw and unfortunately Maribor could get past the Cezch side.

That meant they got drawn to face us in the Europa League.