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Champions League facts: Will beer run Sheriff out of town?

| 02.08.2022

Champions League facts battle: Can Czechs shoot down the Sheriff?

The Champions League qualifiers continue this week with a spot in the final play-off round at stake.

Instead of the usual betting preview we’ve picked out three games involving some lesser known teams and how they shape up in the battle of weird and wonderful facts.

Sheriff Tiraspol v Viktoria Plzen (Tue)

Sheriff may sound like they’re from the wild west, but this eastern European club are named after one of the largest companies in the unrecognised state of Transnistria which has its own government, passports and currency, although officially they are Moldovan.

Don’t think of them as a bunch of cowboys as last season they beat Real Madrid in the group stage in the Spanish capital in one of the greatest upsets of all time, although five months later head coach Yuriy Vernydub left the club to join the Ukrainian army in the fight against the Russian invaders.

In 2017, their Czech opponents unveiled their new dug-outs in the shape of beer cans as part of a sponsorship deal with Gambrinus. The dug-outs also have heated leather seats for those nippy nights in Plzen.

Verdict: Two giant cans of lager in a football ground make this a simple win for the Czechs over two legs

Ludogorets Razgrad v Dinamo Zagreb (Tue)

The Bulgarians sadly passed away under the name Antiobiotic-Ludogorets in 2005, but came back from the dead five years later when they were appropriately bought by a pharmaceutical businessman, who has overseen 11 successive league titles.

Dinamo Zagreb, the most successful Croatian club by a long way, were dissolved by the 1945 communist government when it was known as HSK Gradanski, but FD Dinamo was founded just three days later.

Stadion Maksimir, Dinamo Zagreb

When Croatia became independent in 1991 it controversially became HSK Gradanski in 1992 and Croatia Zagreb a year later just to annoy their fans even more. In 2000 they settled on Dinamo Zagreb and have kept the name ever since, winning the league title in 16 of the last 17 seasons.

Verdict: The medicinal properties of the Bulgarians look hard to ignore.

Qarabag v Ferencvarosi (Wed)

Qarabag may sound like something you take to the supermarket, but they are the most successful Azerbaijan club in the last 10 years.

They have only once reached the group stage of the Champions League knockout stage, the 2017-18 season when they were drawn against Chelsea, Roma and Atletico Madrid. Incredibly they drew twice with the Spaniards, but predictably finished bottom of the group with two points, losing 10-0 on aggregate to the Blues.

The most decorated club in Hungarian football, Ferencvarosi were forced into a change of name in 1951 by the communist revolutionary committee charged with running Hungarian sport and were renamed EDOSZ, the food industry’s union, and their traditional green kit was switched to a party-friendly red and white for good measure which went down a storm with fans.

After the 1956 uprising against the Soviets’ puppet government, the club affectionately known as Fradi was back in business and they went on to enjoy great success domestically and in Europe during the 1960s.

Verdict: Both clubs have a history with the Soviets, but the revolution of 1956 edges it for us. The Hungarians to go through after the first leg is drawn in Baku.

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Warren Barner