Two Scottish Premiership sides are in Europa Conference action on Thursday night and Betfair's Frankie Monkhouse previews their chances...
"Hibernian and Aberdeen fly the saltire with both in action at home on Thursday evening, hoping to secure a winning start."
It's all go
The newly-formed Europa Conference League comes to the attention of Scottish football fans this midweek. Hibernian and Aberdeen fly the saltire with both in action at home on Thursday evening, hoping to secure a winning start.
The Hibees host Andorran outfit Santa Coloma at Easter Road in the capital while the Dons entertain Swedes BK Hackan at Pittodrie. You can bet on both matches thanks to the Betfair Exchangehttps://www.betfair.com/exchange/plus/en/soccer/uefa-europa-conference-qualifiers/aberdeen-v-hacken-betting-30718193, with dozens of eye-catching pre-match and in-play options available.
Hibs hope to build on the success of last season's third-place finish in the Scottish Premiership by edging closer to the Old Firm and enjoying an extended stay in the Europa Conference League. Jack Ross and co enjoy home advantage in this qualifier first leg. They'll be eager to make it count and ensure the tie is put to bed before travelling to Andorra next week.
They caught the eye in pre-season with a stunning 2-1 win over English Premier League giants Arsenal at Easter Road. Hibs raced into a 2-0 lead that day thanks to goals from Martin Boyle and Daniel Mackay before the Gunners halved the deficit eight minutes from time when Emile Smith-Rowe netted a late consolation. Confidence is high in the home dressing room.
Andorrans target an upset
FC Santa Coloma arrive in Scotland as the underdogs but hope to pull off an upset, catching their hosts cold. The Andorrans, managed by former Barcelona goalkeeper Albert Jorquera finished third in the eight-team Primera Divisio but won only half of their matches during the regular season.
The visitors enjoy a slight advantage over their hosts in terms of fitness, having come through a previous round in the Conference League. They dispatched Gibraltar's Mons Calpe 4-0 at home in the second leg but could only manage a draw in the first game on the road. This test represents a giant leap in class of opponent.
Hibs will get the job done
Having fought out a draw with the minnows of Mons Calpe, it's difficult to get overly excited about the chances of Dove in this fixture. Hibs may be playing their first competitive match, but they have better players, which will show, which is why they're priced at just 1/25 on the Sportsbook for the win. They're 1/3 to be leading at half-time before going on to secure the victory.
Aberdeen target an improvement on the previous campaign when they made little impact on the Europa League and surrendered third place in the Premiership. Having parted company with Derek McInnes, new boss Stephen Glass is charged with bringing the good times back to Pittodrie, but he faces a tough opener against Hacken.
Dons do benefit from the experience of former Celtic captain Scott Brown who is now player/coach at Aberdeen as well as club captain. Brown's experience of playing in big European matches could prove pivotal in this game, and the 36-year-old will be desperate to prove there's plenty left in the tank ahead of an important season.
Hacken fit and raring to go
Underdogs BK Hacken finished third in a competitive Allsvenskan last season, a competition won by Malmo. The Wasps ended 11 points behind the champions and just two points off runners up IF Elfsborg. They are coached by Per-Mathias Hogmo, a former Norwegian cap and manager of the national team having been in charge between 2013 and 2016.
The visitors should be fitter and sharper than their opponents, with the Allsvenskan season already well underway. They are currently ninth in the league table but have won each of their last three. They beat Kalmar FF 3-2 away from home recently and will hope to be on the scoresheet again.
Tough start for Dons
This is a tough opening match for the Dons, who play a side in good form who are already deep into their domestic campaign. Brown will hope to drive Aberdeen and boss the midfield as he did many times for Celtic on big European nights.
Aberdeen are available at 2.486/4 on the Betfair Exchange with BK Hacken a 3.185/40 option. The draw is 3.412/5. Both teams to score is at 1.9520/21, which will help keep things interesting.
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