UEFA Europa League Preview: Wigan Athletic v Maribor
By Football News
Ante Simundza takes charge of Maribor for the first time on Thursday hoping to make history at Wigan Athletic in the UEFA Europa League.
Maribor head to the DW Stadium for the Group D clash striving to become the first Slovenian side to beat English opposition in UEFA club competition.
The Slovenian champions, though, are in a period of transition after the departure by mutual consent of coach Ante Cacic following Saturday's 2-1 defeat against Koper, with Simundza announced as his successor on Monday.
A run of one win from seven games in all competitions, including a 5-2 home loss against Rubin Kazan in their opening Europa League group game, prompted the managerial change and ended Cacic's brief spell at the helm, after he only joined at the start of June.
Simundza, who had three spells with Maribor as a player, inherits a side currently top of the PrvaLiga on goal difference, but in need of a change in fortunes both domestically and in Europe.
Like Maribor, Wigan will also be eyeing Thursday's game as a chance to secure a morale-boosting victory.
Owen Coyle's men have failed to score in four of their last five games in all competitions and are currently 13th in the Championship as the club's bid to re-join the Premier League at the first time of asking has endured an indifferent start.
There is a belief from Coyle, however, that results have not reflected recent performance levels and that luck has proved elusive.
Wigan at least will take heart from a goalless draw at Zulte Waregem on matchday one, a fixture that marked the club's first foray into European football.
Coyle has injury worries over striker Marc-Antoine Fortune (hamstring) and defender Thomas Rogne (leg wound) following a 1-0 defeat at Watford on Saturday.
On Rogne, the former Bolton Wanderers and Burnley manager said: "We'll assess that injury over the next few days, it doesn't look particularly pleasing on the eye it has to be said, but I'm hoping it's superficial rather than anything long term."
Maribor's previous two visits to England in Europa League action ended in 3-1 and 1-0 defeats at Tottenham and Birmingham City respectively.
Indeed, comparisons can be made between Maribor's encounter against Wigan this week and with Birmingham during the 2011-12 competition.
Birmingham won the League Cup during the previous campaign only to suffer relegation from the Premier League at the end of the same season, while Wigan stunned Manchester City in the FA Cup final back in May before dropping down to the second tier of English football a matter of days after their Wembley victory.