Thursday, 28 July 2016

CS Pandurii Târgu Jiu vs Maccabi Tel Aviv UEFA Europa League Qualifiers Match Preview And Prediction - July 29, 2016

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Pandurii Târgu Jiu impressed in Romania last season taking 3rd place in the league to qualify for Europe for only the 2nd time. They had a decent run in this competition in their only previous European campaign, progressing through the qualifying rounds and into the 2013 group stage, where they failed to win a match. They did beat Maccabi’s city rivals Hapoel Tel Aviv in that run though so have good memories of facing Israeli opposition. They got their league campaign underway last Friday with a 2-1 win over CS U Craiova but this will be their first match in the 2016-17 Europa League.

It will be Maccabi Tel Aviv’s 5th though after they started out in the 1st Qualifying Round having narrowly missed out on the Israeli title last season. They were comfortable 4-0 winners on aggregate against Gorica and scraped through a tough 2nd Qualifying Round tie with Kairat of Kazakhstan. Gal Alberman scored the decisive goal with 4 minutes to go last week to seal a 3-2 aggregate win. They start the new league campaign on Sunday and should be up to full fitness now.

This is a tough game to call partly because Pandurii Târgu Jiu remain something of an unknown quantity. Maccabi will be wary of that and are unlikely to be too adventurous with the home leg next week likely to be when they get the chance to kill this tie off. 7 of their last 10 competitive matches have had under 2.5 goals as have 6 of Pandurii Târgu Jiu’s last 8 home games.

Given that and given 1st Legs in Europe are often cagey affairs with two teams trying to figure each other out, we may not see many goals here and backing there to be Under 2.5 Goals at 8/13 looks a sensible idea.

The sides have never previously met.

5 of Pandurii Târgu Jiu's last 8 home games have finished level. 3 of them were 1-1 draws. Maccabi Tel Aviv have drawn 5 of their last 9 away games including three 1-1 draws.

Grigoraş is likely to make few changes to the side that made a winning start in the league on Friday. Romanian international striker Adrian Hora is their main goal threat.

Maccabi named the same side in both legs of the last round against Kairat and are likely to do the same again here. Yossi Benayoun who scored a key away goal in that tie may come on in the closing stages again.

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