AEK in need of a miracle in Turkey
UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE - PLAYOFFS 2ND LEG
AGONAsport previews the second leg of the 2019/2020 UEFA Europa League playoff tie between Trabzonspor and AEK in Turkey.
Crisis-hit AEK are in major trouble. Before a ball was kicked, many expected this to be an evenly-matched contest, but Trabzonspor took a huge step towards the group stage with a large 3-1 triumph at the Olympic Stadium. Marko Livaja initially handed AEK the lead in the opening minutes, but Caleb Ekuban then scored three unanswered goals to snatch victory for Trabzonspor at the empty OAKA. AEK now require a miracle to somehow qualify for the group phase.
The Kitrinomavri have competed in the group stage of either the Europa League or UEFA Champions League in the last two seasons.
AEK must score at least three goals to stand a chance of qualifying; any other result will see Trabzonspor qualify. In the event AEK win by two goals having scored more than three times (4-2, 5-3 e.t.c.), the Athenians will advance on the away goals rule. A 3-1 AEK victory takes the tie into extra time.
Regardless of the final outcome, it will be fascinating to see how much AEK improve following the sacking of Miguel Cardoso at the weekend. According to reports, club supremo Dimitris Melissanidis is eager to hire Gus Poyet as the new head coach, but stand-in manager Nikos Kostenoglou will be coaching the team in Turkey on Thursday. Cardoso was fired immediately after AEK conceded a shock 2-1 home defeat to Xanthi on matchday one of the 2019/2020 Super League season.
Matters couldn’t be more different for Trabzonspor. Full of confidence after an impressive start to the season, the Turks are beginning to fire on all cylinders, and they defeated Yeni Malatyaspor 2-1 in Trabzon on Sunday evening. Abdulkadir Omur and Joao Pereira scored the goals to secure all three points at the Senol Gunes Stadium.
TEAM NEWS: TRABZONSPOR
Trabzonspor head coach Unal Karaman is unlikely to make any changes to the team which ripped AEK apart at will in Athens.
This week, headline signing Daniel Sturridge has began training with Trabzonspor after arriving on a free transfer, but he is yet to reach match fitness. There is a possibility the 29-year-old English striker will make his debut as a second-half substitute.
Possible line-up: Cakir, Novak, Hosseini, Turkmen, Pereira, Sosa, Parmak, Nwakeme, Ekuban, Omur, Sorloth.
TEAM NEWS: AEK
In a boost to interim coach Kostenoglou, Ukrainian centre-back Dmytro Chygrynskiy and attacker Viktor Klonaridis have recovered from injury and travelled to Turkey. First-choice goalkeeper Vasilis Barkas has conceded five goals in the past two matches.
Requiring a minimum of three goals to stand a chance of qualifying, AEK have no choice but to choose an attacking approach and throw everything at Trabzonspor. New signings Paulinho, David Simao, Francisco Geraldes, Daniele Verde and Nelson Oliveira have all looked completely off the pace so far. Midfielder Konstantinos Galanopoulos will feel he deserves a chance in the line-up.
Possible line-up: Barkas, Hult, Vranjes, Oikonomou, Bakakis, Simoes, Galanopoulos, Mantalos, Livaja, Verde, Oliveira.
REFEREE: MICHAEL OLIVER (ENG)
Experienced English referee Michael Oliver will take charge of proceedings in Turkey. Oliver, 34, has overseen a combined total of 39 Champions and Europa League matches in his career.
This season, Oliver has already been the referee for three Premier League games, dishing out eight yellow cards across those matches. Incidentally, Oliver refereed AEK’s 2-0 loss to Ajax in the 2018/2019 Champions League group stage in Greece.
Referee: Michael Oliver (ENG)
Assistant referees: Stuart Burt (ENG), Simon Bennett (ENG)
Fourth official: David Coote (ENG)
WHERE TO WATCH
Watch the match live on Go Greek TV!