FK Zalgiris will host Hacken in the second round qualifying of the UEFA Europa League. Both these teams participated in the UEFA Champions League qualifying process during the past few weeks. They were eliminated from that competition in the second qualifying round. Both will now focus on beating Aberdeen to advance to the Europa League playoffs.
Preview (Zalgiris vs Hacken)
The hosts are the current A Lyga champions. They defeated second-place Kauno Zalgiris by an enormous 21 points in the 2022 season. The fact that they are currently in second position after 25 games, six points behind Paneveys, and have played one more game than the league leaders suggests that this season has been a little more challenging for them. Over the past few weeks, Zalgiris has been competing in Champions League qualification. They had a strong start, defeating Struga 2-1 overall after holding them to a spirited 0-0 draw.
Then, last weekend, Vladimir Cheburin’s team drew 0-0 with league rival FA Siauliai. It extended their losing streak to four games overall. As a result, they enter this matchup as the underdogs. Hacken’s 2022 season will go down in history as they won the Svenska Cup for the second time. They also won the Allsvenskan championship for the first time ever.
Despite defeating Djurgarden by seven points in their 30 games last season, Per-Mathias Hogmo’s team is currently third in the league after 18 games and is currently four points behind league leaders IF Elfsborg. Hacken played in Champions League qualifying, just like their opponents in this game, and faced The New Saints in their first game, which they won 5-1 overall thanks to goals from Ibrahim Sadiq in both legs of the competition. Liepaja eliminated Hacken 4-2 in the first qualifying round of the 2018–19 season, the last time they participated in the Europa League. However, after an outstanding last 18 months, Hacken enters this match as the slight favorite, according to the bookies.
With 14 goals in 20 games, Mathias Oyewusi of Nigeria, has been outstanding for Cheburin’s team this season. He is likely to start in attack for the visitors. With five and four assists each for Zalgiris this season, Ovidijus Verbickas and Yury Kendysh have been the team’s primary creators. Petar Mamic has also contributed with four assists from left-back, and all three are anticipated to start this game.
Simon Gustafson, who is suffering from a thigh injury and is anticipated to be out for at least another couple of weeks, is the only injury absence for Hogmo in this match. Before leaving for Sheffield United in the English Premier League, Benie Traore had scored 20 goals for Hacken. As a result, the attacking duties have subsequently rested on Sadi. He has so far performed admirably with six goals in his previous eight games.
Although the hosts entered the game as the underdogs, they showed their attacking power in the Champions League qualifications, where they defeated Galatasaray in their home game by scoring twice. Although the visitors also pose a serious offensive threat and we anticipate that they will score in this game, we believe that the home team will pull off an unexpected victory in this first-leg contest.
FK Zalgiris 2 – 1 Hacken
For more football previews, click here