Football: New Premier League Season Begins, Maribor the Strongest

By , 13 Jul 2019, 10:35 AM Sport
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STA, 13 July 2019 - The 29th season of the Slovenian football premier league will get under way today, featuring Maribor as the defending champion and nine more teams looking to upset the most dominant team in the history of Slovenian club football.

Maribor have won 16th Slovenian league titles so far and are followed by Olimpija of Ljubljana, which has restored its status as a serious rival in recent years, managing to snatch the title in 2016 and 2018.

While things were also fairly close in the last season, a strong challenge by Olimpija is looking somewhat less likely ahead of the new session, with Maribor having acquired the Ljubljana team's leading scorer and the no. 2 scorer overall in the last season Rok Kronaveter.

Maribor, who have successfully began their qualifying campaign for the Champions League, already have the league's top scorer, Luka Zahović, the son of Slovenia's former international star Zlatko Zahović. What is more, the team has been joined by the fourth best scorer of the league in the last season, midfielder Rudi Požeg Vancaš.

"I'm happy with the roster. It clearly has quality and can meet the demands we have," Maribor's head coach Darko Milanič told the press. He said the goal was to repeat the last season, when Maribor also made it to the final of the Slovenian Cup competition and to the third round of qualifying for the UEFA Europa League.

The Cup was won by Olimpija, which lost its first qualifying match for the Europa League on Thursday and has mostly been making headlines in recent weeks over reports its owner Milan Mandarić is about to sell the club to an Italian businessman.

The team's coach Safet Hadžić in confident nonetheless: "I'm very happy with the preparations... perhaps I still expect a reinforcement in a position or two, but momentarily all is ok. We're a club that is chasing the title, but we should not underestimate the other teams. Domžale and the rest are not naive."

Domžale, whose two titles date back to 2007 and 2008, is indeed looking as a potential challenger, having reinforced the team significantly. The club leadership says the goal is to advance step by step and get close to Maribor and Olimpija.

The new season will be opened today at 6pm by the Tabor Sežana - Aluminij encounter, while Maribor will also play, against Triglav at 8.15pm.

A total of 36 rounds will be played until 16 May, with a winter break scheduled between 14 December and 22 February. All the matches will be broadcast by TV Slovenija or Planet TV.

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