Preview: 2014/15 UEFA Europa League – Second Qualifying Round
Győri ETO FC (HUN) v IFK Göteborg (SWE) 50%-50%
The Swedish team should be a little bit favorite, but recently isn’t performing very well in Qualifying Rounds, and Hungarian teams often surprise, both in a good and in a bad way: very open tie.
Molde FK (NOR) v ND Gorica (SVN) 60%-40%
Molde FK is a bit stronger, and is leading Norwegian Championship despite losing their manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, that had led them to their first Titles in 2011 and 2012, while ND Gorica is a team that is cooperating with AC Parma (Italian Serie A), and has a lot of Italian players that, I can easily say, in Italy would play in the lower part of Serie B or in the higher part of Serie C, while the Norwegians would probably be involved in the struggle to avoid relegation in Serie A, or would be in the high part of Serie B.
A small upset isn’t impossibile, Molde can’t underestimate its opponent.
FK Željezničar (BIH) v FK Metalurg Skopje (MKD) 70%-30%
The Bosnians look stronger and shouldn’t fail to advance.
JK Nõmme Kalju (EST) v KKS Lech Poznań (POL) 35%-65%
KKS Lech Poznan is stronger and should qualify, but JK Nomme Kalju is one of the best Estonian teams and last year performed decently in Europe, while the Poles were kicked out by Zalgiris, another Baltic team: they had better be very careful.
FC Dinamo Minsk (BLR) v Myllykosken Pallo-47 (FIN) 70%-30%
FC Dinamo should be stronger, but Belarussian teams sometimes are a bit unpredictable: anyway this Club is quite regular and performed quite well in the last two Editions.
MYPA has a good and experienced manager, Anssi Muurinen, but in the First Round struggled against a team from Faroe Islands (1-0 on aggregate): FC Dinamo largely favorite, but an upset isn’t impossible.
FC Neman Grodno (BLR) v FH Hafnarfjördur (ISL) 45%-55%
A Belarussian team should be stronger than an Icelandic one, but FC Neman isn’t usually a top team in Belarus (just 3 previous appearances in Europe, always out at First Round), while FH is a top Club in Iceland and often is hard to eliminate: it’s going to be an open tie.
Hapoel Beer Sheva FC (ISR) v RNK Split (CRO) 60%-40%
Reding the names of the Clubs, I’d consider RNK Split the team to beat, looking at the name in the squads (few Isreali Internationals) I’d say that Hapoel is favorite, also considering that they ended second placed in the Championship, but RNK won’t be an easy opponent.
FC Slovan Liberec (CZE) v MFK Košice (SVK) 55%-45%
An Czechoslovak Derby: the FC Slovan Liberec that we saw in last Europa League (out at Round of 32) should qualift, but anyway anything can happen.
Víkingur (FRO) v Tromsø IL (NOR) 30%-70%
A very Nordic tie: Vikingur can be already happy to be here after reaching EL QR2 twice in a row, and could dream QR3 knowing that they will face a team that is currently playing in the Norwegian second tier, but Tromso IL, that recently is being very lucky in the draws, has almost the same squad that had last year in the first tier and is currently leading Adeccoligaen (Norwegian second tier), so is doubtlessy the favorite.
FC Petrolul Ploieşti (ROU) v KS Flamurtari (ALB) 80%-20%
Albanian football is growing fast and Albanian clubs are performing more than decently in Preliminary Rounds recently, anyway FC Petrolul, that can field few quality players (i.e. Zicu and Mutu) should be too strong.
FK Čukarički (SRB) v SV Grödig (AUT) 60&-40%
The surprise of last Austrian Championship vs the surprise of last Serbian Championship: I’d bet on the second one, despite being unseeded.
CFR 1907 Cluj (ROU) v FK Jagodina (SRB) 60%.40%
CFR Cluj isn’t anymore the one we saw few times in Champions League in the last years, but should be able to overcome this Round: anyway Serbian teams are always dangerous.
Motherwell FC (SCO) v Stjarnan (ISL) 60%-40%
Scottish teams are usually stronger than Icelandic ones, and Motherwell should make no exception, but sometimes they’re negatively unpredictable, while Stjarnan is emerging as a quite solid team in Iceland, not anymore famous just for its celebrations: an upset is more than possible.
FC Spartak Trnava (SVK) v FC Zestafoni (GEO) 55%-45%
A very open tie between two quite hard and solid teams: it’s a pity that one of them will be dropped so early. Let’s give a very small ambiental advantage to Spartak Trnava.
Crusaders FC (NIR) v IF Brommapojkarna (SWE) 45%-55%
A very difficult tie to predict: normally Swedish teams shouls be (much) stronger than Northern Irish one, but the latters are growing, while IF Brommapojkarna, that entered EL for Fair Play merits is struggling in Allsvenskan. Anyway this is one of the weakest ties.
Aberdeen FC (SCO) v FC Groningen (NED) 50%-50%
A very interesting and open tie between two of the most prestigious Clubs in this Round, despite Dutch teams are having very hard times in Europe and Scottish teams different from Celtic and Rangers haven’t reached a Group Stage for years.
Bursaspor (TUR) v FC Chikhura Sachkhere (GEO) 15%-85%
Bursaspor is already at Third Qualifying Round.
Neftçi PFK (AZE) v FC Koper (SVN) 60%-40%
Neftci PFK, that reached Group Stage two years ago, is probably stronger, but Azeri teams are very unpredictable and FC Koper looked very convincing in the First Round: this tie could be more open than expected.
Linfield FC (NIR) v AIK Solna (SWE) 40%-60%
The same for Crusadares-Brommapojkarna, but Linfield FC is stronger than Crusadares, and AIK is much stronger than AIK.
AIK is obviously favorite, but I feel that an upset is more than possible.
HNK Rijeka (CRO) v Ferencvárosi TC (HUN) 55%-45%
HNK Rijeka is growing, its ownership is investing and last year played in the Group Stage, while Ferencvarosi TC is an historical team, but had quite an hard life against a Maltese team in First Round.
Rationally the Croatians are favorite, but the tie could be very open.
FK Budućnost Podgorica (MNE) v AC Omonia (CYP) 40%-60%
AC Omonia is stronger, but teams from Mantenegro can’t be taken too easy.
FK Mladá Boleslav (CZE) v NK Široki Brijeg (BIH) 50%-50%
FC Luzern (SUI) v Saint Johnstone FC (SCO) 55%-45%
This should be a very open and balanced tie: maybe FC luzern is just a little bit stronger, but the Scottish side last Season had a very positive campaign: the campaign could be uncertain till the last minute of the Second Leg.
KF Laçi (ALB) v FC Zorya Luhansk (UKR) 45%-55%
I don’t know a lot about FC Zorya, that comes from a city interested by the currenct troubles in Ukraine, but an “average” Ukrainian team should be stronger than an “average” Albanian one, but Albanian football is growing.
Rosenborg BK (NOR) v Sligo Rovers FC (IRL) 65%-35%
Irish teams are quite badass, and are never easy to be face, an upset isn’t impossible, but Rosenborg is (much) stronger.
FK Atlantas (LTU) v FC Shakhter Karagandy (KAZ) 25%-75%
Kazak teams are sometimes a bit unpredictable, but have performed very well so far, and FK Atlantas doesn’t look strong enough to cause many trouble to last year EL Group Stage contestant.
FK Sarajevo (BIH) v FK Haugesund (NOR) 70%-30%
FK Haugesund is struggling in the league and hardly defeated a Welsh Team in the First Round: FK Sarajevo is clearly my favorite, and a bigger home crowd should help them a bit.
SV Zulte Waregem (BEL) v Zawisza Bydgoszcz (POL) 60%-40%
It should be a quite balanced tie, but the Belgian team, that confirmed itself after last surprisind Season, could have something more.
JK Sillamäe Kalev (EST) v FC Krasnodar (RUS) 5%-95%
FC Krasnodar can already think to Third Round.
PFC CSKA Sofia (BUL) v FC Zimbru Chisinau (MDA) 65%-35%
CSKA is stronger, but has been quite disappointing in the last few years, so FC Zimbru could have few chances.
Derry City FC (IRL) v FC Shakhtyor Soligorsk (BLR) 50%-50%
Ruch Chorzów (POL) v FC Vaduz (LIE) 40%-60%
FC Vaduz is from Liechtenstein, but next Season will play in Swiss top division, so can be very dangerous, and maybe be the favorite.
Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC (ISR) v FC Astana (KAZ) 50%-50%
FK AS Trenčín (SVK) v FK Vojvodina (SRB) 40%-60%
PFC Litex Lovech (BUL) v Diósgyőri VTK (HUN) 50%-50%
A very open and balanced tie. Nothing else to add.
PFC Botev Plovdiv (BUL) v SKN St Pölten (AUT) 80%-20%
SKN St Polten, a second tier club (another “gift” from Austrian Cup after Paschning last Season), is already happy to be here, PFC Botev Plovdiv shouldn’t face many problems.
Asteras Tripolis FC (GRE) v RoPS Rovaniemi (FIN) 80%-20%
The second European campaign ever for the Club from Arctic Circle, anyway, considering that they are second or third last in Finnish Championship, this tie is probably just the opportunity for their fans to make a trip to the warm Egean Sea, despite Tripoli not being on the coast.
HNK Hajduk Split (CRO) v Dundalk FC (IRL) 70%-30%
Irish teams are often quite hard to beat, but probably Hajduk is too strong for Dundalk.
FC Kairat Almaty v Esbjerg fB (DEN) 45%-55%
A surprise is possible.
IF Elfsborg (SWE) v İnter Bakı PİK (AZE) 60%-40%
IFE is probably stronger, but in last Season EL Group Stage didn’t make a good impression…so Inter Baku could surprise them, considering that Azeri teams, likes Kazak ones, can never be underestimated.