Aris and Atromitos facing tricky European tests on the road
Aris face Molde FK in Norway, while Atromitos travel to Poland for a tough meeting with Legia Warsaw. AGONAsport previews the first legs of the 2019/2020 UEFA Europa League third qualifying round.
The European mission continues for Aris. Eager to make an impression after a number of years in the doldrums, Aris are full of motivation to enjoy a memorable campaign, and they successfully negotiated a tricky tie with AE Limassol in the second qualifying round. In Thessaloniki, AEL frustrated their opponents in a gritty 0:0 draw, but Aris came good in Cyprus as Nicolas Diguiny converted an early penalty.
Molde were also given a test in the second qualifying round. In the first game, Molde were held to a 0:0 draw by Cukaricki, but the Norwegians subsequently sprung to life in Serbia as Ohi Omoijuanfo, Magnus Eikrem and Erling Knudtzon struck gold to secure a 3:1 victory. Last year, Molde were also involved in the Europa League, giving Zenit Saint Petersburg a tough battle as they eventually conceded a 3:4 aggregate defeat.
The Norwegian club had easily beaten KR Reykjavik 7:1 in the first qualifying round.
Due to the harsh winters, the Norwegian Eliteserien is held from late March to November of the same year, and Molde are currently in first place of the championship with 36 points from 17 matches. Nearest challengers Bodo/Glimt, four points behind in second, can move into first if they win their two games in hand.
It’s worth taking into account that Molde haven’t lost at home in any competition since February 2018.
Either Molde or Aris will play the winner of the Partizan Belgrade - Yeni Malatyaspor pair in the playoff round.
TEAM NEWS: MOLDE
Molde will surely look to play in an aggressive manner in Norway, protecting possession and attacking the Aris defence. In the current season, Leke James has scored seven goals in the Eliteserien, and he will trouble the Greek back line. Talented midfielder Magnus Eikrem pulls the strings.
Possible line-up: Craninx, Haugen, Forren, Bjørnbak, Haraldseid, Hussain, Aursnes, Omoijuanfo, Hestad, Eikrem, James.
TEAM NEWS: ARIS
Head coach Savvas Pantelidis is unlikely to make any changes to the line-up from the victory in Larnaca, with Brown Ideye leading the line and Diguiny playing just behind him. Daniel Larsson and Giannis Fetfatzidis will look to attack with speed when on the break.
Possible line-up: Cuesta, Korhut, Rose, Velez, Sundgren, Matilla, Basha, Larsson, Fetfatzidis, Diguiny, Ideye.
Referee: Maurizio Mariani (ITA)
Assistant referees: Matteo Passeri (ITA), Valentino Fiorito (ITA)
Fourth official: Gianpaolo Calvarese (ITA)
ATROMITOS HOPING TO DEFY THE ODDS
Over in Poland, Atromitos certainly aren’t favourites to beat Legia Warsaw, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the qualities required to spring a surprise.
Legia, well-known across the continent for their impressive performances in the 2016/2017 UEFA Champions League, have struggled in Europe since that particular season. In the last two campaigns, Legia have failed to qualify for the group stage of a European competition, notably suffering embarrassing defeats to Spartak Trnava and F91 Dudelange in 2018.
This summer, Legia have already been in European action, scraping past KuPS Kuopio 1:0 on aggregate in the second phase of qualification. Atromitos beat FC DAC Dunajska Streda 5:3 in a goal-filled tie.
An away goal is the minimum objective for Atromitos as they look forward to hosting Legia at the Peristeri Stadium next week. The winners will play either Midtjylland or Glasgow Rangers in the playoffs.
TEAM NEWS: LEGIA WARSAW
At the weekend, French defender William Remy wasn’t in a fit-enough condition to play in a 0:0 draw with Slask, but he is in contention to start this game against Atromitos. Former Olympiacos midfielder Andre Martins is an important figure for Legia. Attacking wise, Carlitos is the player to watch.
Possible line-up: Majecki, Rocha, Jedrzejczyk, Remy, Vesovic, Gvilia, Martins, Nagy, Novikovas, Carlitos, Kulenovic.
TEAM NEWS: ATROMITOS
The main loss for Atromitos is the absence of injured right-back Kyriakos Kivrakidis. Spyros Natsos is expected to replace Kivrakidis, and in the more forward positions, the in-form Giorgos Manousos and Apostolos Vellios will aim to cause the Legia defence problems.
Possible line-up: Megyeri, Katranis, Risvanis, Goutas, Natsos, Madson, Charisis, N’Sikulu, Manousos, Umbides, Vellios.
Referee: Manuel Schuettengruber (AUT)
Assistant referees: Roland Brandner (AUT), Robert Steinacher (AUT)
Fourth official: Christopher Jaeger (AUT)