Thursday, 28 July 2016

AEK Larnaca vs Spartak Moscow UEFA Europa League Qualifiers Match Preview And Prediction - July 28, 2016

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AEK Larnaca entered this competition at the 1st Qualifying Round stage almost a month ago and have made swift progress since. The opposition hasn’t been that fierce admittedly but 4 wins out of 4 win and 6-1 and 5-2 aggregate wins against Folgore / Falciano of San Marino and Cliftonville of Northern Ireland suggest they are ready for a bigger challenge which the Russians will certainly provide. The results have come as a welcome boost to AEK as they finished last season with 3 successive league defeats in Cyprus.

As for Spartak, who once dominated Russian football winning the title in 9 of the first 10 seasons following the break-up of the Soviet Union but haven’t added to that tally since, this will be their first competitive game of the campaign. They finished in 5th in the Russian Premier League last term and haven’t played in Europe since a play-off round defeat to St Gallen 3 years ago in this competition. They’ve played 5 friendlies ahead of this game, winning the first four against fairly weak opposition but losing 1-0 to Stuttgart on Friday.

The Russians are trading at around Evens to win this match but that looks a little short for several reasons. Firstly this game will kick off at 18:00 local time in the heat of the Cypriot summer and that is not good news for the visitors. Not only are they less accustomed to the heat they are likely to fade quicker given this is their first competitive game of the season as opposed to AEK’s 5th.

Spartak also have a poor recent Europa League record and haven’t won any of their last 6 matches in it, exiting at the first hurdle in their last two appearances. They’ll probably just be grateful to get back to Moscow on level terms so the value here looks to be found by backing Double Chance – AEK Larnaca or Draw at 8/11.

The sides have never previously met.

Spartak have gone 6 games without a win in the competition. They were hammered 10-3 on aggregate by Porto in the 2011 QF and have lost qualifiers against Legia Warsaw and St Gallen since. AEK have only lost 2 of their 12 European matches at home.

Brazilian forward Andre Alves is set to return up front.

Fernando and Serdar Taşçı could make their debuts after completing transfers earlier in the month.

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