Thursday, 14 July 2016

Beroe vs HJK Europa League Match Preview And Prediction - July 15, 2016


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Thursday will be the first meeting between Beroe and HJK.HJK have lost just 7% of their last 14 matches in all competitions, whereas Bero have only won just 33% of their last 18 outings.

Beroe made a long awaited return to European football back in the 2010/11 season after almost 25 years of absence, and since making that return they have been regulars in the Europa League. Last season they were eliminated in this 2nd qualifying round by Brondby, and their two campaigns prior to this saw them knocked out by RApid Wien and Hapoel Tel Aviv. Now they look towards knocking HJK out of the tournament and making it to the 3rd qualifying round for the first time since 2010.

They finished 3rd in the Bulgarian A Group last season, three points adrift of Levski Sofia and a mammoth 17 points behind winners Ludogorets Razgrad. Their new domestic season begins at the end of July though, so they have plenty more time to prepare for it. They were actually looking like contenders for the top spot last season until a dreadful second half to the season saw them fall way off the mark.

Beroe opened their competitive season with a goalless draw at home to Radnin in the 1st qualifying round of the Europa League, but they made up for that disappointment with a 2-0 win away to them to make it this far. This makes it six games unbeaten for them in all competitions, with four of them ending in victory.

HJK ran the Finland Veikkausliiga winners much closer, but eventually also finished in 3rd position. They only lagged behind SJK by two points in the end though, and led 4th placed Inter Turku by nine at the end of the campaign.

The Finnish domestic season is already in full flow now though, and after 16 matches HJK find themselves leading the pack on goal difference ahead of Mariehamn. They are ahead of 3rd placed KuPS by a huge nine points too, so they are in prime position to lift the Veikkausliiga trophy at the end of 2015.

As you would expect, their form record is looking pretty good as a result. They have lost just one of their last 14 matches in all competitions and have won ten of them. This includes a 2-0 win at Atlantas in the first leg of their Europa League 1st qualifying round, which they followed with a 1-1 draw at home.

HJK haven’t been eliminated at this stage of the Europa League since 2009 either, and in the six continental campaigns they have taken part in since then they have made it to the playoffs five times and the group stages once. They certainly have the experience at this stage of the competition.

This experience, plus their increased match fitness and excellent form, makes HJK a strong contender to get something from this match in my eyes. My prediction is for an HJK Win or Draw Double Chance at 8/13, and I’m also backing a 1-0 win for the visitors at 13/2 for my correct score prediction.

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