On Thursday evening Molde and Cukaricki will meet at the Aker Stadium in Norway for their first leg encounter of the second stage of this year’s Europa League qualifiers. The hosts will be very confident in their ability to overcome their opponents having seen off KR Reykjavik in impressive fashion last time out, and considering they currently hold top spot in their division it’s clear that winning is in Molde’s DNA. Cukaricki shouldn’t be written off completely though as they too enjoyed a solid opening victory, over FC Banants in their case.
Molde demolished KR Reykjavik by seven goals to one in the first leg of their first round qualifier, which took place on home soil. 4-0 up at half time thanks to strikes from Leke James who netted three times within forty minutes, and one from Fredrik Aursnes sandwiched in between, ensured that a win was all but certain for the Norwegian table toppers. Vegard Forren, Etzaz Hussain and Ohi Anthony Omoijuanfo added to their team’s tally after the interval to add salt to the opposition’s wounds following a consolation goal by Tobias Thomsen with twenty minutes remaining. The reverse fixture was not quite so goal-flooded, with neither side able to break the deadlock in what was a rather dull goalless affair at the KR-vollur. Nonetheless, Molde knew they were more or less guaranteed a spot in the next round and didn’t need to exert themselves to any degree.
Cukaricki were not as merciful as Molde in their clash against FC Banants, beating their opponents 8-0 over two legs.The home tie saw them go ahead through Slobodan Tedic just before half time, and as the match came to its conclusion Stefan Kovac popped up to double their advantage late in the game. The attacker, assisted by Aleksandar Djordjevic, bagged his sides third in the final minute of the game to make it a real task for FC Banants to progress. Three minutes into that second matchup though, Luka Stojanovic made sure that Cukaricki were not going to become complacent when he got the fourth on aggregate and the first on the night. Tedic arrived on the half hour mark, followed by Luka Lukovic’s goal which pushed the team’s even further apart. Veljko Birmancevic and Stojanovic bagged the fourth and fifth, resulting in the elimination of FC Banants.
Andreas Linde and Eirik Ulland Andersen will be forced to sit this one out due to their respective injury problems, with the latter returning to action in October. We expect Molde to line up similar to how they did in the first leg against KR Reykjavik, with Alex Craninx as number one behind Martin Bjornback and Vegard Forren as centre backs. In midfield, Fredrick Aursnes and Etzaz Hussain will protect the defence, while Hestad, Magnus Wolff Eikrem and Anthony Omoijuanfo are likely to occupy the more advanced midfield roles. Leke James should start as number nine.
Thankfully, from Cukaricki’s point of view, they have no injury concerns ahead of this crucial game in their campaign. Considering their most recent away performance in European football was so good, we can’t see them changing much here and we think they’ll utilize the 4-2-3-1 again with Nemanja Belic as goalkeeper, supported by Darko Puskanic and Stefan Sapic at the heart of the back line. Just in front of the defence will be Marko Docic and Stefan Kovac, with Lukovic, Stojavonic and Milutin Vidosavljevic will create opportunities for Slobodan Tedic up front.
This should be a fascinating ninety minutes due to the attacking nature of both sides and the efficient goal threat their forwards possess. Therefore, we think Molde to win and BTTS at 3.40 with Bet365 is a solid bet for our first tip, as the pair look determined to net as many goals as possible, but Molde’s experience in Europe should get them over the line. BTTS at 2.00 with Bet365 is another decent shout and that will be our second recommended bet of the day, which should come as no surprise when taking into account the fact they scored a combined amount of fifteen goals in the first round of qualifiers. Our final tip is Molde to win half-time/full-time at 2.20 with Bet365, solely because they’ll have home advantage and their opponents could very easily be intimidated by the electric atmosphere.