Rangers and St Johnstone have already let down Scotland in the UEFA Europa League and one is tipping Aberdeen to join the Gers and the Saints on the scrapheap this week.
Progres was too good for Rangers in the UEFA Europa League first qualifying round but the Luxembourgish team is heading for the exit because it lost 0-1 at home to AEL last week. And St Johnstone’s UEFA Europa League conqueror, Trakai, is in a spot of bother after its 1-2 away loss to Norrkoping.
Aberdeen, which finished second in last season’s Scottish Premiership, 24 points behind Celtic but nine points and 18 points ahead of Rangers and St Johnstone respectively, was playing its first competitive match this term when it drew 1-1 with Siroki Brijeg last week. Aberdeen hosted the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round first leg so the Dons have to go to Bosnia and Herzegovina for the deciding game.
Stipo Markovic, the scorer of Siroki Brijeg’s equalising goal against Aberdeen, has said that the Dons will face a hellish environment on Thursday. Siroki Brijeg’s Pecara Stadium holds fewer than 6,000 people but the Blues fans have a fearsome reputation as the most extreme in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The Bosnian football authorities ordered Siroki Brijeg to close its Pecara Stadium for seven matches as a consequence of bad behaviour of Blues supporters at a game in May, a decision that was reduced to three matches on appeal. The aforementioned ban only applies to domestic games so the Pecara Stadium will be full to capacity on Thursday after tickets for the match sold out in minutes.
Siroki Brijeg fans have reasons to be optimistic because their side performed admirably versus Aberdeen at Pittodrie Stadium last week. It took a moment of individual brilliance from Ryan Christie to open the scoring for Aberdeen, the midfielder on loan from Celtic curling the ball into the goal from the edge of the penalty area. But Siroki Brijeg worked its way back into the UEFA Europa League second qualifying round first leg, squandering two first-half chances before Markovic netted in the 69th minute.
According to UEFA’s official statistics, Siroki Brijeg had almost as many total attempts and corner kicks as Aberdeen in last week’s Europa League second qualifying round first leg and, in terms of clear-cut opportunities, one could argue that the Blues engineered more than the Dons.
Were bookmakers asleep when Rangers and St Johnstone bowed out of the UEFA Europa League to continental minnows? That is the only explanation for odds compilers installing Aberdeen at relatively short odds to beat Siroki Brijeg in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Siroki Brijeg is available at odds of +104 with Marathonbet to make it through to the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round and, of even greater appeal, the Blues are +250 with Bet365 to win the second leg of their tussle against Aberdeen. Siroki Brijeg defeated Ordabasy of Kazakhstan 2-0 at home last month and one rates Aberdeen as being no better than the aforementioned team.
Siroki Brijeg to beat Aberdeen
Thursday 20th July, 19:45 GMT