Our World Cup tears continue to flow as we continue to miss what was an awesome tournament in Brazil this summer. Any sort of match will help our heavy hearts and with Champions League and Europa League qualification underway, we have a replacement, albeit slightly less anticipated.
We have the second legs of the second qualification rounds this week and we have a treble of games where we expect both teams to score in the Europa League games this Thursday.
Sligo Rovers v Rosenberg – 7.00pm Thursday
Irish side Sligo pulled off one of the biggest shocks of the games played in the first leg, by defeating heavyweights Rosenberg 2-1 away in Norway. That result sealed the fate of manager, Per Joar Hansen who was sacked on the back of that performance. Sligo will be desperate for a repeat performance and with home advantage, will have plenty of confidence.
With the difficulties of travelling away, Sligo fans would have taken a narrow defeat in Norway, yet they managed to put two goals past their opponents and leave with a famous victory. On home turf, Sligo should get just as many chances as their under pressure opposition will be all out on the attack and after their goal scoring exploits a week ago I can see the Irish side finding the net.
Rosenberg will be expected to turn this tie around and will certainly go for goals. The 22 time Norwegian Champions may well be recovering from losing their manager but they will be well aware of what is required on their trip. Since last Thursday’s defeat to Sligo, Rosenberg got back to winning ways with a 1-0 victory in the Tippeligaen to Sogndal, and that boost may be just what they need to find the goals to kick start their Europa campaign.
Vojvodina v Trencin – 7.00pm Thursday
Slovakian outfit AS Trencin have been excellent in recent times, and showed their class by defeating Serbian outfit Vojvodina 4-0, one week ago. Back on home turf Vojvodina have it all to do and will look to attack from the start which will provide us with an open game. The winner will face Hull City in the next round so there is plenty persuasion on offer.
Vojvodina may well have a massive task ahead as they look to avenge the four defeat, but now the Serbian side have nothing to lose and now at home will go for goals. After a campaign in the Superliga which saw them finish in fourth spot, Vojvodina have suffered off the field problems which has left the club in financial disarray. There isn’t a chance Trencin will fall to pieces and go out here, but i expect Vojvodina to give it a good go and get at least a goal in a game that is likely to end in defeat.
Trencin are a much organised and well drilled outfit. Professional in their set up, they will be no pushovers when they face Hull City in the next round. A job is still to be done though and even though they’re unlikely to get everything their own way as they did at home in Slovakia, they will certainly create plenty of chances once more and having scored four goals, it is difficult to see Trencin leave Serbia without a goal or two.
St Polten v Botev Plovdiv – 8.05pm Thursday
St Polten will be more than satisfied with a 2-1 defeat in the first leg as they left Bulgaria with that all important away goal. Botev Plovdiv have been suffering with chaos and crisis off the pitch, so a European adventure has been a welcome distraction from club troubles.
This is a lovely looking game for BTTS, as the visitors have the better players but St Polten are at home and are in a nice position with the all important away goal from the first leg. St Polten came off second best last week but will be confident of progressing. The Austrian outfit are not shy when finding the net, as not only did they score last time out in Bulgaria but they also put eight past Landhaus in a demolition earlier in the month. St Polten need a win and with both sides strong in the final third we could see a hatful in an open game.
Botev Plovdiv had a terrific campaign which earned them a Europa League spot but a chaotic summer has seen a new manager arrive and then leave in quick succession as well as the board allowing each and every player to leave if they wish as they look to cut costs from their wage bill. A fairly talented and youthful squad is in place and despite financial difficulties, the Bulgarian side will be confident they can overcome St Polten who they have already beaten twice in recent times.
The pair met in a friendly just over a month ago and Plovdiv came away with a 4-2 win. Along with the 2-1 result last week, it looks like goals will be on the menu this Thursday.
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