Improvement required against Trabzonspor
UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE - PLAYOFFS 1ST LEG
AGONAsport previews the first leg of the 2019/2020 UEFA Europa League qualification playoff tie between AEK and Trabzonspor.
This is a step up in class. In the third qualifying round, AEK could afford to play rather average football, but this won’t be the case against a strong Trabzonspor side which knocked out Sparta Prague.
Last week, AEK got the job done against Universitatea Craiova, but the manner of the 3:1 aggregate victory sent alarm bells ringing. AEK gave a dismal performance in the return leg at the Olympic Stadium after initially winning the first match 2:0.
Marko Livaja’s fury at being substituted instigated talk of possible disharmony within the team.
Nevertheless, AEK are still in the early stages of adapting to the coaching style of Miguel Cardoso, and this tie against Trabzonspor represents an ideal opportunity to get back on track. In the 2018/2019 season, Trabzonspor finished in fourth place of the Turkish Super Lig, six behind champions Galatasaray. This is their maiden European campaign in four years.
When playing Sparta Prague in the third phase of qualifying, the Turks found themselves 2:0 down in the Czech Republic, but they stole a 2:2 draw before winning 2:1 in Trabzon:
The first leg is vital. In order to put themselves in the box seat, AEK require a victory in Athens, preferably without conceding any goals. AEK have only won two of their last 11 home matches in European competitions.
This game will be played inside an empty Olympic Stadium as a result of the UEFA punishment for fan trouble in a match against Ajax in the 2018/2019 season.
At the weekend, Trabzonspor competed in their first game of the new Super Lig season, drawing 1:1 against Kasimpasa on the road:
TEAM NEWS: AEK
On Tuesday, AEK made a change to their original list of players submitted to UEFA for these two matches, removing Christos Almpanis in favour of Ukrainian centre-back Dmytro Chygrynskiy. Young Bosnian midfielder Alen Sabanadzovic has been left out of the team.
Viktor Klonaridis and Niklas Hult sit on the sidelines with injuries.
Possible line-up: Barkas, Lopes, Svarnas, Vranjes, Paulinho, Simoes, Simao, Mantalos, Livaja, Geraldes, Oliveira.
TEAM NEWS: TRABZONSPOR
Trabzonspor travel to Athens without any major injury issues. The Turks generally use a 4-2-3-1 formation, with the experienced Jose Sosa and John Obi Mikel providing the link between defence and attack. Norwegian forward Alexander Sorloth offers a threat in the penalty box.
Interestingly, Trabzonspor officially signed former Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge on Wednesday, but the Englishman is expected to miss this match in Greece.
Possible line-up: Cakir, Novak, Hosseini, Turkmen, Pereira, Sosa, Mikel, Nwakaeme, Ekuban, Omur, Sorloth.
REFEREE: DANIEL SIEBERT (GER)
Siebert, 35, will take charge of proceedings at the OAKA.
This summer, Siebert has already refereed a match with Greek interest, overseeing APOEL’s 2:0 victory at Qarabag in the UEFA Champions League. Overall, the German has been the referee for six Champions League games and eight Europa League matches in his career.
Referee: Daniel Siebert (GER)
Assistant referees: Rafael Foltyn (GER), Jan Seidel (GER)
Fourth official: Soren Storks (GER)