St. Pölten stands between KuPS and the group stage in the Champions League – head coach Ojala: "Both teams are used to attacking all the time"

A place in the group stage in the soccer Champions League is at stake when KuPS and St. Pölten from Austria meet in the qualifiers. In their home countries, both teams are used to dominating and winning their matches.

Kuopion Palloseura is facing one of the biggest games of the season.

At home, the KuPS ladies have won 18 of their 20 matches in the national league, but now await two matches against the Austrian St. The pool.

The winner of the match pair advances to the group stage in the Champions League. The first match will be played in Kuopio on Wednesday evening and the second leg in the capital of the state of Lower Austria a week later.

– St. Pölten is a fairly attack-oriented team that is also good in set-piece situations. They are quite supreme in their league and ready to attack constantly. Their situation is very similar to ours, said KuPS head coach Ollipekka Ojala to STT.

St. Pölten subscribes to the title in Austria

St. Pölten has won the last seven league titles in his country.

Last year, they missed the group stage in the Champions League after a qualifying loss of 4-1 against the Italian big club Juventus in a match where Tuija Hyyrynen played from the start and was replaced in the 72nd minute.

– We have good chances to progress. St. Pölten has had problems when the opponent pressed up. It will be interesting to see how they react if we have control of the ball: can they press organized, said Ojala.

Caption
St. Pölten dominates Austrian football.

Image: Dragan Ristovski / Alamy/All Over Press

Barcelona or Juventus to Kuopio in the winter?

In the group stage, six tough matches in late autumn would await.

– Then we would play at our maximum level or even above it. Of course, it would be interesting to see how Barcelona or Juventus fare in Kuopio in November or December, when at worst it can snow, laughed Ojala.

Barcelona are already through to the group stage, while Juventus face Denmark’s HB Køge in the final qualifying round. The first match ended 1-1 in Denmark on Tuesday evening.

Tuija Hyyrynen.
Caption
Hyyrynen’s Juventus to Kuopio?

Image: All Over Press

Economic carrot at stake

On the women’s side, the Champions League and its predecessor, the UEFA Cup, have been played since the 2000/01 season under various formats. The group game was put into use for last year’s edition.

A place in the group stage brings €400,000 into the purse, after which each win brings €50,000 and a draw €17,000. At the same time, the other clubs in the national league would each receive a penny through Uefa regulations for solidarity.

– With this money, we could build a kind of dynasty. However, there is a risk that the class differences in the national league will grow further. On the whole, it can be said that our success would benefit Finnish women’s football, Ojala said.

In the national league, KuPS is close to its second straight gold as the team leads HJK from Helsinki by six points with three rounds remaining.

KuPS and St. Pölten meet in the first match of the Champions League’s final qualifying round on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. Yle Arenan broadcasts starting at 18.20.

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