AEK in box seat to progress
UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE - 3rd QUALIFYING ROUND (LEG 2)
AGONAsport previews the second leg of the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round tie between AEK and Universitatea Craiova.
AEK are perfectly positioned to progress. Last week, the Kitrinomavri built up a healthy advantage in Romania, comfortably defeating their hosts 2:0 thanks to two second-half goals from Petros Mantalos and Marko Livaja. While AEK weren’t at their best, they were rarely made to sweat by a lacklustre Craiova side, and they are now overwhelming favourites to progress.
The winners of this tie will face either Sparta Prague or Trabzonspor in the playoffs.
In order to qualify, AEK must not lose by two or more goals. A 2:0 win for Craiova takes the tie into extra time, and if the Romanians triumph with a two-goal margin by scoring more than two times (i.e. 3:1 or 4:2), they will progress on the away goals rule. An AEK win, a draw or even a one-goal defeat will see the Athenians qualify.
This match will be played inside an empty Olympic Stadium as a result of fan trouble in a UEFA Champions League clash against Ajax last season.
At the weekend, Craiova conceded their third consecutive defeat in all competitions, losing to Sepsi by a score of 0:1 at the Ion Oblemenco Stadium. Sepsi capitalised on a defensive error to score the winning goal with nine minutes remaining.
TEAM NEWS: AEK
Having suffered an injury in the first leg, Viktor Klonaridis will watch this match from the stands. Ukrainian centre-back Dmytro Chygrynskiy also misses the game through injury. Niklas Hult has recovered from a knock, but Miguel Cardoso took the decision to rest the Swedish left-back.
Goalkeeper Vasilis Barkas is still at the club after AEK recently rejected a bid of 4.5 million euros from Montpellier.
Possible line-up: Barkas, Lopes, Svarnas, Vranjes, Paulinho, Simões, Simão, Geraldes, Mantalos, Verde, Livaja.
TEAM NEWS: UNIVERSITATEA CRAIOVA
Craiova, a team which generally enjoys playing attacking football, must be aggressive in the final third of the pitch to give themselves a fighting chance. The Romanians don’t have any new injury worries, with head coach Corneliu Papura likely to use a 4-3-3 formation. Craiova know they have nothing to lose in Athens, a factor which could make them more dangerous.
Possible line-up: Pigliacelli, Bancu, Kelic, Acka, Briceag, Qaka, Cicaldau, Ivanov, Vatajelu, Barbut, Fortes.
REFEREE: JEROME BRISARD (FRA)
Brisard, 33, will take charge of this duel at the OAKA. On Saturday, the Frenchman was the referee for the Marseille - Reims (0:2) clash in Ligue 1, dishing out one yellow card.
In the past, Brisard has refereed two matches in Europa League qualifying and three in the UEFA Youth League.
Referee: Jerome Brisard (FRA)
Assistant referees: Benjamin Pagès (FRA), François Boudikan (FRA)
Fourth official: Johan Hamel (FRA)