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After a hard earned draw in the first leg, Shakhtyor Soligorsk and Maribor will resume hostilities on Wednesday night for the second leg of their Champions League first-round qualifying match.
The opportunity exists for the Belarusian champions to make history when they advance to the second round against either Sheriff Tiraspol or Zrinjski.
Even though Soligorsk’s Champions League scoring drought continued in last week’s first leg 0-0 stalemate, Sergey Tashuev’s club is now well-positioned to attempt something no Miners team has done before in the Champions League: advance to the second round of qualification.
Soligorsk has frequently traveled to the second and third rounds of Europa League qualification, and should their time in the top division finish this week, they will still be given the chance to try to advance in the Europa Conference League. The Miners are currently sixth in the 2022 Belarusian Premier League but have games in hand on the teams above them. Thanks to their defensive prowess at the New Sakarya Stadium, they have only allowed two goals in their last six competitive home games.
Maribor, the 16-time Slovenian champion, would have a much stronger European resume going into their first-round matchup with Soligorsk, but it wouldn’t matter if Radovan Karanovic’s team couldn’t score goals. This week’s visitors to Maribor played out a 0-0 draw after three straight friendly stalemates, which may not have come as a major surprise given the retirement of club legend and all-time leading scorer Marcos Tavares.
Three days after their match against Soligorsk, Maribor will begin the defense of their Slovenian top-flight championship. Karanovic’s team has never lost in the first round of Champions League qualifying, but they were defeated by Coleraine at that stage in Europa League qualifying last year. The previous events do not favor the Violets, who have made three group stage appearances in the Champions League, most recently in the 2017–18 season, and Soligorsk will not be taken lightly on their home field.
Shakhtyor Soligorsk has had little trouble lately finding the correct defensive formula at home, and winning the Champions League would at least make up for their early losses in defending their Belarusian title.
The more esteemed guests, who might need to rely on penalties to avoid being eliminated in the first round for the first time ever, can be expected to be frustrated by Tashuev’s team once again.