Thursday night sees Aberdeen fly out to Finland for their second leg Europa League qualifying round tie with Rovaniemen Palloseura (RoPS). The fixture will be Dereck McInnes’ 300th game as The Dons boss, with his side looking to book their place in the quarter final round against either Fola Esch or Chikhura Sachkhere.
Aberdeen take a 2-1 lead going into the second leg after victory at Pittodire. First half goals from Sam Cosgrove and Niall McGinn left the visitors stunned at the break. They were by far the more dominant side having 36 shots at all game with 15 on target. But despite creating numerous chances, they couldn’t find another goal and were punished late on when Jantti found the net. A potentially vital away goal for RoPS which has set up an interesting second leg with the tie far from over.
However, further reading into the Finnish side has brought up some questions over whether they will be good enough to make it through. Pasi Tuutti’s side are having a bad season, currently sitting tenth in a 12 team league, eight points outside the top six and only five points above bottom side Vaasan Palloseura. They were given last weekend off to help prepare for this tie and have not won a home European game in the last 7 attempts.
Derek McInnes is likely to stick with the same team that was victorious last week with new club captain Joe Lewis set to make his 144th appearance for the club between the sticks. However, new signing Funso Ojo who joined the club from Scunthorpe United last week for £125,000 will be ineligible having being signed after the first leg.
RoPS boss, Pasi Tuutti is not expected to change this side too much after the first leg. Following a man of the match display last week, Spanish goalkeeper Antonio Reguero will once again be in goal whilst some changes in midfield are to be expected with goal scorer Tommi Jantti and Tarik Kada are likely to come into the side.
Aberdeen were the much better team last week, but this game has a whole new dynamic to it following that late goal. A clean sheet/and or draw for the Dons would be enough to seem them through to the next round, so I am expecting Derek McInnes to set up his side with that in mind. Sam Cosgrove has scored 22 goals in 51 appearances for Aberdeen and will be full of confidence after netting last week.