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You know what’s really sad? This is the last lot of qualifiers for the year. I understand they’re not everyone’s bag and I fully appreciate that not everyone gets excited by looking up the governing districts of Kazakhstan as well as the internal infrastructure that makes transport from the nearest regional worth half a goal on the handicap. But I love it.
But that’s all for this year, unfortunately. Thankfully, one more week means one more chance – and I’m feeling confident about going out with a bang.
Away goals being abolished means that the psychology of these ties has generally freed up the better footballing sides to win the ties – and you don’t need to account for managers overthinking the surrounding stadia providing them with an edge. Just win the bloody match and stop fixing your overcoat. With that being said, very rarely has so much been on the line for so many teams on a given Thursday night, so in its essence, tonight is one of the most important nights of the year in football terms.
And I’m here to capitalise on all of those sides ready to bottle it. Here’s the last of our beautiful Thursdays together, folks. It’s been wild. To the continent!
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Jose Mourinho is one of two things, and which of these is true completely depends on your standpoint: simply one of the best managers of all-time or a bitter old pillock who’s getting a free spin around Europe pretending to be a gaffer. Even if you believe in the latter, the point remains that, incredibly, the man’s home record in the early part of his tenures are impeccable.
Given this is at home and he’s defending a 2-1 lead, it should indicate Trabzonspor coming out from their defensive shape and running at them. Mourinho is about to feast on some Turkish delight, before ultimately throwing it off his skipper’s head in a fortnight in an act of defiance. Never change, Jose.
If you didn’t watch the first leg in Azerbaijan let me tell you – the only difference between the sides, apart from a lack of vowels on the home team’s teamsheet, was that one of them was used to the pitch and the other wasn’t.
Speaking after the game, Aberdeen reps cited it as disgraceful and they weren’t wrong. On a sounder surface, I really fancy the Scottish Premiership outfit. They play slicker football and can overturn the 1-0 deficit.
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There’s lessons to be learned here. Flora, up until last year, were a bit of a laughing stock. In many ways, they resembled an Irish side in Europe. They’d won their domestic league and relied on plucky performances to progress in the qualifiers. But they’re a different story now, as shown with their 4-2 win in the first-leg.
Given the scoreline from Estonia, I can only assume that Rovers are the price they are because they’ll have the ball. That’ll suit Flora – their best passages at home came when they regained possession high up the pitch.
I don’t really get the price. St. Johnstone had multiple chances to put this tie to bed in Austria and just couldn’t find the breakthrough.
Yes, I understand the point about them effectively being away from home as their ground was being readied (why does this keep happening when we’ve been without fans for 18 months?), but if you don’t think travelling to Perth in August has a profound effect on any man, well all I can say is that you’ve never been to Perth in August.
18:00: Roma v Trabzonspor – Roma to Win
19:45: Aberdeen v Qarabag – Aberdeen to Win
19:45: Shamrock Rovers v Flora Tallinn – Flora and the Draw
19:45: St Johnstone v LASK Linz – St Johnstone and the Draw
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