Red Star Belgrade make the trip to Finland this Wednesday, looking to finish the job against HJK in the second leg of their Champions League second qualifying round. HJK manager Toni Koskela will be hoping that with the home advantage his side can overcome the two-goal deficit they picked up in the first leg. Red Star will arrive in Finland in the driving seat and look set to progress onto the third qualifying round, where they will face either The New Saints or Rosenborg.
HJK will need to display a far better performance this Wednesday if they stand a chance of overcoming the two-goal deficit they suffered in the first leg. Before suffering a 2-0 loss to Red Star Belgrade, HJK had gone unbeaten in their previous six games in which they secured three wins and three draws from. Leading up to their recent Champions League fixture, HJK picked up back-to-back draws against HB and then Llves, though they were not as successful in Serbia. Their Champions League fixture remained 1-0 to Red Star until the 90th minute, though the second goal that followed could well prove to be crucial. Most recently, HJK returned to their drawing ways, when they drew 1-1 with VPS in a league fixture.
Red Star Belgrade’s performance against HJK summed up their recent form, which has been consistently impressive. The 2-0 victory against their Finnish opponents marked their fourth consecutive win and marked the sixth game they had gone without a single defeat. Following their previous win over HJK, Red Star returned to their domestic campaign and added to their winning streak with another 2-0 win over Radnicki Nis. With this 2-0 victory, Red Star have now scored two goals in each of their last five games, all of which they have gone on to win.
Last time out against their opponents, HJK lined up in a 3-5-2 formation and after the little success they had with it in the first leg, we may see a change this Wednesday. Despite having little luck in front of goal last Wednesday, we are expecting to see Riku Riski lead the line up front once again, with the forward bagging two goals in his last three. Tim Väyrynen was benched in the last Champions League fixture, but after bagging an important goal in his previous fixture we may see him join Riski upfront. HJK will have a fully fit squad at their disposal once again.
After such a strong run of form in their recent matches, we are expecting Vladan Milojević to keep his side very similar to what we have seen recently. Milan Pavkov came off the bench last time out against HJK and bagged the second goal, the forward also scored in his last league outing so we could see a start for him. Milan Borjan may get another start between the sticks, with the keeper showing great form in the Champions League Qualifiers with just one goal conceded so far.
After looking at their recent form and how the previous meeting went between these sides, we are once again backing Red Star Belgrade. You can find odds of around 1.75 for Red Star to win, which is a tempting price. The visiting side have scored two goals in each of their last five games and we have a feeling we might see the same again. Red Star managed to keep a clean sheet last time against HJK, but with their opponents needing the win, we may see goals from either side in this one.