Aberdeen have one more hurdle to overcome if they want to reach the Europa League group stage, as they take on Swedish champions BK Hacken over two legs.
BK Hacken are in a tricky situation. Their strong form in Europe this year has drawn huge interest in their players and they have now lost talented left-back Kristoffer Lund to Palermo for a fee over £2m. He’s not the only star name catching admiring glances. Ghanian winger Ibrahim Sadiq scored twice in the 8-1 aggregate win over Zalgiris Vilnius in the last round and although he remains at the club for now, that could change before the Aberdeen clash.
Meanwhile, Ivory Coast playmaker Amane Romeo is also surrounded by speculation, with some sources claiming Hacken could cash in before they face Barry Robson’s side.
Meanwhile Dave Cormack has hinted at four new arrivals for Aberdeen from now until the end of the transfer window, but it remains to be seen how many he can get through the door for this clash.
Hacken to win at 5/6
Aberdeen are looking to make it into the group stages of the Europa League for the first since the competition was rebranded from the UEFA Cup in 2009. The positives the Scottish side can take from reaching this stage is that even if they lose, they will be in the group stage of the Europa Conference League, and so European football will be played at Pittodrie this year.
However, they face a tough test against Hacken, who currently sit second in Sweden’s top flight. Punching above their weight against the likes of Malmo and Elfsborg, Per-Mathias Høgmo led his side to the title last term and is now looking to make an impression in Europe. They were shockingly beaten on penalties by Ki Klaksvik in Champions League qualifying, but have re-grouped since then to put together a string of victories.
Now they face Aberdeen for a place in the Europa League, and the home leg should suit them. They play at the Bravida Arena on a 4G pitch, and conditions are set to suit the home side. In attack, they also have the ability to harm the Scottish defence, with Sadiq still at the club at the time of writing. Given Aberdeen haven’t won either of their opening two league matches this term, albeit one was against Celtic, they are coming into this relatively cold. When you consider they may take their chances on turning around a narrow defeat in the second leg, a home win seems all the more likely.
Under 2.5 goals at 6/5
Aberdeen drew their only league game so far this season 0-0 at Livingston while they only scraped a 2-1 away win over League One side Stirling Albion in the cup. Although there is confidence from within the squad and they beat Hacken 5-3 on aggregate in the Conference League two years ago, they lost the away leg 2-0.
All signs point to this being a tight and nervy affair. Barry Robson will be more than happy with a stalemate in the first leg, in the hope that his side can blow the Swedes away in Aberdeen. Don’t expect fireworks here.