Thursday, 28 July 2016

Birkirkara vs FC Krasnodar UEFA Europa League Qualifiers Match Preview And Prediction - July 29, 2016


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Birkirkara have perhaps been the story of the Europa League so far. The Maltese minnows had only won 3 of their 22 European ties coming into this season but they have progressed into the 3rd Qualifying Round for the first time with some fine performances. They were 3-1 winners against Bosnian side Široki Brijeg in the 1st Qualifying Round to progress to a tie with Hearts. Having drawn 0-0 in extremely hot conditions in Malta in the 1st Leg, nobody gave Birkirkara much chance in Edinburgh last week but they stunned the Scots with goals from Bubalović and Herrera putting them 2-0 up at Tynecastle. Despite a late Hearts goal, they hung on for a famous 2-1 win and the side that finished 3rd in the Maltese Premier League last season is now in uncharted territory.

They take on Krasnodar, who are one of the emerging forces of Russian football. They made their debuts in European competition two seasons ago progressing into a very tough Europa League group which included Wolfsburg and Everton. They went one better last year, topping a group which also included German giants Borussia Dortmund only to lose to Sparta Prague in the last 32.

Clearly the Russians are very strong favourites to win this tie and should have enough to make the group stage again but there is reason to think Birkirkara can be very competitive in the 1st Leg. Firstly they are playing well and are under no real pressure here so that should help. Secondly the conditions are again likely to be very hot which should at least be a leveller although Krasnodar is also quite hot this time of year so it shouldn’t bother the visitors too much however they may tire as the game goes on as it’s their first competitive game of the season.

Krasnodar’s success in the Europa League last year was mostly at home and they only won once on the road so backing Birkirkara +1.5 Asian Handicap at 1.750 looks a good shout here.

The Maltese side have lost just 1 of their last 28 games by more than 1 goal. Krasnodar have only won 2 of their last 10 away games in this competition.

Birkirkara are likely to go with the same players who pulled off a huge upset last week.

Stanislav Kritsyuk is set to start in goal having just completed a €4million transfer from Braga.

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