Who are MFK Ruzomberok…Everton’s small-town UEL opposition?

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You could fit the population of the Slovakian town of Ruzomberok into Everton’s Goodison Park with room to spare. But while they’re the smaller club in every sense of the word, the Toffees’ Europa League opponents are already experts at upsetting the odds.

So, what can Everton’s fans and players expect from Ruza in the coming two games?

There’s hope under Hrncar

The Merseysiders’ opponents are enjoying a real rise under manager Norbert Hrncar, with last season’s third-placed finish in the Fortuna Liga the club’s best campaign since they won the league title back in 2006.

That success has been something of a double-edged sword, with the club’s top two talents having exited during the summer, with prolific hitman Jakub Mares and midfield ace Martin Chriel both poached by bigger fish.

However, other key players have stepped up this term, with the Slovakian outfit already knocking out Serbia’s FK Vojvodina and SK Brann of Norway in the first two qualifying rounds of this competition.

Maslo and other major players

The biggest presence in that side has surely been gigantic defender Jan Maslo, with the towering centre-back a fearsome competitor in his own box and a threat from set-pieces at the other end, netting seven times since the beginning of last season.

Elsewhere, assist king Peter Gal-Andrezly needs watching on the left side of midfield, having directly set up nine goals last term, while striker Milos Lacny has hit double figures in successive campaigns for Ruza.

However, the club do lack strength in central midfield since Chriel’s departure – an area where Ronald Koeman’s men can and should look to exploit their weakness.

On balance, you’d expect the Merseyside outfit to win this tie comfortably – though they could well ship a goal or two along the way.

But what can travelling Toffees’ fans expect?

Scenic Cebraton one of Europe’s loveliest grounds

Unlike many sides with small stadia playing in continental competition, Ruzomberok are opting to play games at their own home, Stadion pod Cebraton. And that’s great news for visiting supporters.

The 4,876-capacity ground is one of the most beautifully located in Europe, sitting at the bottom of the Cebrat hills.

So, even if the football doesn’t live up to expectation, there’s a nice distraction for fans!

Everton are 1/12 favourites to win the first leg at Goodison Park, with 8/1 for a draw on Merseyside and 33/1 available for Ruza to pull off a shock victory in L4.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing

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Dave Burin

Dave graduated with an MA in English Literature at Durham University, and worked in marketing before joining the Ladbrokes News team. A Man United fan and avid groundhopper, he’s also an ardent follower of Rugby League. You can usually find him at a ground near you, clutching a big cup of tea.