Asteras is a hot favorite after the 2-0 win at Tripoli
Maccabi Tel Aviv might have a lot more experience but Asteras Tripolis seems highly motivated to do whatever necessary in their second Play-Off match and qualify to the Groups stage. Coach Verghetis and his players are ready to take the most important step in their European history. All they have to do is defend their 2-0 win. The preview and betting pick:
Analysis: Maccabi Tel Aviv – Asteras Tripolis
Attention: Neutral ground: Antonis Papadopoulos, Larnaca – Referee: Deniz Aytekin (GER)
*On aggregate 0-2. Highlights from the first match:
**This will be the sixth official match for Asteras Tripolis in Europe this season. They have already left out RoPS (aggr. 5-3) and Mainz 05 (aggr. 4-2) and this is the first time they have got this far (Play-Offs). In their brief history in European competitions (since July 2012) they keep improving their record (3W-6D-2L). Both of their defeats were away (2013 Rapid Wien 3-1 and 2014 Mainz 1-0) but we should also note that all their wins took place this season at home (24/07/14 RoPS 4-2, 07/08/14 Mainz 3-1 and 21/08/14 Maccabi T.A. 2-0).
*Maccabi Tel Aviv has a very strong history against clubs from Greece. In 2004 they left out PAOK (Champions League, aggr. 4-0), in 2010 they qualified against Olympiakos (Europa League, aggr. 2-2) and in 2011 they left out Panathinaikos (Europa League, aggr. 5-1).
*The referee, Deniz Aytekin (GER), has a total of 33 yellow and 3 red cards in his 6 European matches for 2013 and 2014 (5.5 yellow cards average).
The players of Maccabi Tel Aviv could have scored one goal in the first match but they did not and the two goals winning margin of Asteras Tripolis has made thing very difficult for them. All their domestic matches have been cancelled because of the incidents that take place in Israel over the last weeks and for this reason their second match will be held in Cyprus. Mr. Garcia could not handle the pressure of coaching a club under these circumstances and he decided to quit. He was replaced by Mr. Ayestarán but the new coach did not have enough time to get to know to his players. Sports director Jordi Cruyff is more familiar with the roster and he will be at the bench tonight.
There are no important absences reported.
Asteras Tripolis comes from an away defeat in the opening match of Super League against PAS Giannina (3-1). It was obvious that the players were concentrated on their opponent only for one half. Mr. Verghetis decided to rotate his lineup but even without their top scorer (De Blasis) Asteras managed to take the lead at 42’ (Barrales). Giannina added a lot of pressure in the second half and they managed to score three goals in 10 minutes (60’, 67’and 70’) to claim the win. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the players of Asteras Tripolis did not care for their defeat. Their minds are set on Maccabi Tel Aviv and the only thing that matters to them is to complete what they started with their 2-0 win in the first match.
Injured: Košický (GK, new transfer), Tormena (MID, new transfer), Badibanga (FWD/4)
Betting pick: Both to score @ 1.85
Maccabi Tel Aviv failed to score in the first match and they deserved a goal. Today they are forced to add pressure to Asteras Tripolis and they will have to risk more than they usually do. Their morale is not good and my guess is that Asteras will find a way to score and kill all their hopes for the Group Stage. The Greek team has not been reliable in defense either so my guess is they will receive a goal as well.
The bookies favor Maccabi too much if we consider that Asteras Tripolis will be playing in a very friendly environment for Greeks. The handicap win of Asteras (+0.5) @ 1.85 is another good option.