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Tommy Breslin aware of ‘huge test’ facing Cliftonville in Champions League opener at Solitude

The Debrecen squad trains ahead of Tuesday's Champions League qualifier at Solitude

The Debrecen squad trains ahead of Tuesday's Champions League qualifier at Solitude

  • by Gareth Fullerton
 

Tommy Breslin needs little reminding of the challenge facing Cliftonville in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Statistics and recent history provide ample evidence of the quality of opposition that will strut out against the Reds at Solitude (7.45pm kick-off).

Hungarian giants Debrecen have won their domestic title seven times in the past 10 years.

Five years ago they went head-to-head with Liverpool, Fiorentina and Olympique Lyonnais in the group stages of the Champions League.

They also recently enjoyed an impressive 4-2 friendly win against French side Lyon.

Cliftonville chief Breslin is under no illusions going into this Champions League second qualifying round, first leg tie, and accepts his side have it all to do in north Belfast.

“It is going to be a huge test for us. Debrecen’s quality and experience is there for everyone to see,” he said.

“They are seasoned campaigners in European competition, and they have played in the group stages of the Champions League before.

“They also beat Lyon in a pre-season friendly a couple of weeks ago, so that’s a little reminder of the quality we’ll face over the two legs.

“We are well aware of their quality and pedigree. They have seven Hungarian internationals and a couple of Bosnian internationals, so it will be tough.

“They also recently moved into a new stadium, so they will be highly motivated to progress in Europe and reach the group stages of the competition.

“They will be that bit sharper, quicker and technically better, but we will be going out to do our best. We have worked hard in pre-season and we are relishing the challenge.”

Despite the odds being stacked against his side, Breslin insists Cliftonville are relishing the challenge.

“Debrecen are a top, top side, but we’ll be well organised and hopefully we can pose them a few problems,” he added.

“We believe we have the players to create chances in front of goal and hopefully we can take them if they come.

“We have worked hard to get here and this is our reward for winning our own domestic title.”

Defender Marc Smyth and midfielder James Knowles miss Tuesday’s game through injury.

Summer signing Johnny Flynn is set to make his competitive debut for the club.

 

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