Aberdeen was the underdog in the first leg against Groningen, simply because the Dutch side was more experienced in playing in European competitions. The first leg could’ve easily gone either way, but when action shifted to the Netherlands, it was the Scottish team that looked more dangerous upfront. The visitors took the lead early and then extended their advantage in the first half, which left the Dutch team fight an uphill battle that proved to be impossible to win.
This time, they try to cause another upset away from home, but they will play against a considerably better opponent. Real Sociedad used to be a force to be reckoned with, especially when they had home pitch advantage, but in the last couple of matches they were unable to build on this edge. Bookmakers are not very optimistic about the visitors’ chances of avoiding defeat, but those who favor Aberdeen will find a couple of morale boosting arguments at http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/football/28508332.
Last time the Spanish side played in the European competition, things took a turn for the worse relatively early as they failed to advance from the group stage. Granted it was the Champions League that they were trying to survive, the disappointing performance both at home and away left fans with only unpleasant memories. With the domestic championship on break, Real Sociedad got themselves busy with a string of friendly games, but the results were subpar.
They got plenty of matches against Dutch teams but only won against Nijmegen, while dropping points against top competitors. Some of the best players were traded in the season break and the replacements are unlikely to provide the cutting edge that they need to return to the elite of Spanish football. Losing at home against Aberdeen would only amplify the misery, which explains why the hosts are under so much pressure ahead of this fixture.
The visitors will use a standard 4-4-2 formation with McGinn and Rooney upfront, as they were the most prolific scorers in Europa League qualifiers. They are hardly world-class strikers, but might prove good enough against a stiff defensive who fails to respond properly to counterattacks. There is no head to head record to use as reference, but Aberdeen didn’t lose in the last eight games, while winning five of those matches. By comparison, Real Sociedad won just once in the last six games.
It is said that money makes the world go round and the new owners of FC Monaco will go to great lengths to prove that this saying is still valid. The rich Principality saw its team relegated to the second flight one season ago but it somehow found the strength to rebound and will play once again among the best French teams. Its return prompted rich Arab Sheiks to take over and attempt something similar to what has been done at Manchester City or Malaga.
The modus operandi is very similar and once again we see a team transform from the offensive downward, and prolific strikers being transferred. Radamel Falcao is the most prominent player to compete for FC Monaco the season after leaving Spain and there is an informative article posted at http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/transfers/radamel-falcao-completes-51m-transfer-to-monaco-8640165.html that sheds some light on the matter.
Radamel Falcao will probably feel pretty lonely up front with no other player coming even close to him in terms of skill, but will pair up with Traore. The other strikers are much younger and have plenty of time to prove their worth, but the midfield is also featuring some players with offensive valence. Colombian midfielder Rodriguez was transferred from Porto where he scored nine goals last season and made a significant contribution to the Portuguese team lifting the trophy.
The main concern for the visitors is the sub-par defense which was not reinforced after the team promoted from Ligue 2. To make matters worse, defender Raggi suffered an injury and will be unavailable tonight, leaving a gap in the defensive that will need to be plugged. Their opponents are also trying to deal with five absentees, four of them due to injury and one missing after receiving a red card. Bordeaux’s offense is more or less toothless, even so they managed to score a goal against PSG and were on the verge of pushing the game into overtime.
A late goal scored by a defender granted the reigning champions a victory in the Super Cup, but Bordeaux put up a good fight. The head-to-head record favors the hosts who won more games, particularly when they had home pitch advantage, but bookmakers have a different idea about how this match will go down. One theory for why the odds are so lopsided is that the hosts would have a harder time replacing the five absentees and have no real options in the offense.
Another way to look at this game is that Radamel Falcao will work his magic in a similar manner he did one year ago when he played for Atletico Madrid. Granted his speed and technique will be difficult to counter by the somewhat stiff defensive of Bordeaux, the hosts know all too well how to contain a prolific striker. The best wager for tonight is Bordeaux not to lose, with a 0:0 Asian handicap or a more straightforward double chance bet bound to trigger some nice profits without taking high risks.
It took them seven years to win the domestic championship after dominating this league for decades, but eventually Steaua Bucharest climbed to the highest step of the ladder. They could capitalize on that performance and win the Super Cup as well, as the reigning champions will face Petrolul in Bucharest. The team was mired in seemingly endless scandals and was on the verge of being eliminated from all European competitions due to corruption allegations.
The scandal is not yet behind them, and with the owner behind bars for more than three years the future doesn’t look too good for Steaua Bucharest. Right now they have a chance of adding another trophy to their impressive collection and with the most important players still in their backyard, they are compelled to live in the moment. Petrolul is not an opponent to underestimate, but this team lacks experience at the highest level and this year’s performance is one of the best in their recent history.
The visitors spent most of the time in the second league and only recently made the step upward, so finishing on the third-place could be regarded as a breakthrough. The last couple of rounds highlighted their lack of experience and the inability to deal with high-pressure, as Petrolul slipped to the third-place. They were lucky to win the Cup as this performance would grant them a chance to compete for European glory, but the road ahead of them is long and tedious.
Fans will be swarming at the National Arena in Bucharest and will create an inferno that should benefit Steaua, while putting the visitors under tremendous pressure. Petrolul has been there before and yet they prevailed at the expense of former champions CFR Cluj, but back then they had thousands of players traveling to the capital from Ploiesti. Facing the team that won the championship by a landslide is an entirely different kind of challenge and it is hard to believe that Petrolul will cause a major upset.
What is certain is that both teams will field offensive starting formation featuring two strikers and this match is unlikely to be heading towards a scoreless draw. Bokila and Younes are by far the most prolific strikers for the visiting team, but Steaua Bucharest has the best defensive in Romanian football and should neutralize them easily. To catch a glimpse at the bigger picture and see how the two teams fared last year visit http://int.soccerway.com/national/romania/liga-i/20122013/regular-season/r18186/.
Being pit against the reigning European and world champion is not something that a team needs in the opening game, even in a competition such as the Confederations Cup. There are no high stakes in this tournament and both players and coaches try to do their best while testing various players on different positions. Fortunately for Spain, their reserves bench is deep enough to make any combination a winning one, but Uruguay can be proud of how they performed in the opening game.
The South Americans went down by 2-1 and Suarez was once again the one who delivered the goal, which explains why he will feature upfront from the first minute. If we are to consider what happened in the first round, his most likely partner would be Cavani who is younger and has an excellent season with Napoli. Another option for Tabarez is to send in Forlan, as the veteran player has a lot of experience in decisive games.
Although advancing to the next stage of the competition won’t translate into financial rewards and the trophy won’t cause many headlines around the world, being eliminated in the group stage is not something that Uruguay needs ahead of the World Cup. We shouldn’t be surprised to see three strikers on the field at the same time, because if Nigeria takes an early lead or if the game drags and Uruguay fails to score, Forlan, Cavani and Suarez could be all playing side-by-side.
Nigeria took full advantage of the fact that they met Tahiti in the first game and scored six goals, en route to a crushing victory. Their opponents didn’t pose any threats whatsoever and did their best to defend, but the difference in class and experience was simply too much. Against Uruguay, they will have a much difficult task, as their opponents will not settle for a draw but try to force them into their own half.
Away from home both teams have mediocre results, but in this tournament one can’t factor in such elements as form supersedes past performance. Punters are entitled to expect a high scoring game, because Uruguay is compelled to win the match while their opponents have already proven their offensive prowess. Add to this the fact that five of the six games scored by Nigeria came from midfielders, and you’ve got an accurate picture about exactly how dangerous the African team is upfront.
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