Austria Vienna vs AEK Athens Prediction, Preview, Lineups & Betting Tips
Austria Vienna is set to take on AEK Athens in a decisive UEFA Europa League encounter between the vice-champions of Austria and Greece. Both sides have their realistic hopes to reach the Round of 32 draw on Monday, but before that the main Group D showdown will be staged at the “Ernst-Happel-Stadion” in Austrian capital Vienna, where “The Violets” will try to benefit from their home advantage. Only a win would have a chance to put Austria Vienna through, while a draw will guarantee more European football for AEK.
AC Milan are already certain for the top position while Rijeka have the same number of points as Austria Vienna (4), but they also have worse head-to-head indicators against either Austria and AEK. This virtually means the battle in Vienna will decide which team will make it to the knockout phase and maximum Rijeka can get is to replace Austria from the third position.
UEFA Europa League: Austria Vienna vs AEK Athens 07.12.2017
AEK began its European campaign from the Champions League qualifiers where they lost twice to CSKA Moscow. However, “The Yellow-Blacks” remain unbeaten on the international stage ever since, initially eliminating Club Brugge in the Europa League play-offs and having one win plus four draws in their five group stage matches. Thus AEK collected seven points out of five Europa League rounds and the squad led by Manolo Jimenez head to Vienna after four consecitive draws. Their only victory was in Rijeka (1:2), followed by a home draw vs Austria, two goalless games vs AC Milan and the last round’s comeback against Rijeka, when the Croats were leading 0:2 after 26 minutes but AEK managed to earn a point.
Meanwhile, AEK does well in the Greek Superleague where they hold the first position and overtake their main rivals. “The Yellow-Blacks” from Athens are with one point over Olympiacos and on two from PAOK, coming after a 2:0 win in Levadia (vs Levadiakos) on Sunday night. Sergio Araujo and Marko Livaja were both goal scorers for AEK, thereby achieving a third consecutive victory, as well as increasing AEK’s form to 9 games without a loss (6 wins, 3 draws).
Austria Vienna have failed to triumph in any of their last seven European home matches (2 draws, 5 defeats) and have won just once in 15 UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League group games in Vienna, losing 10 of them. That’s an awful streak and Thorsten Fink must find a way to end it if he wants to leave his name with golden letters in Austria Vienna’s European history. Most fans of “The Violets” surely remember the 2004-05 UEFA Cup breakthrough when they have been stopped by Parma, after two draws in the quarter-finals, thanks to the away goals rule.
More than a decade later Austria is eager for more European glory after failing to make it through the UEFA Europa League groups three times since the new competition has been established. Now Thorsten Fink’s men have another great opportunity and they will host to AEK after a home draw vs RB Salzburg last weekend. Anyway, their domestic Bundesliga position is far from pleasing and “The Violets” are currently fifth after 18 rounds, being on 18 points behind both leading sides RB Salzburg/Sturm Graz.
Austria Vienna vs AEK Athens Prediction and Betting Tips
AEK have scored in only one of their last five European away games. Nevertheless, their current form and advantage to be pleased with an eventual draw in Vienna is a huge asset for “The Yellow-Blacks”, so they can stick to their regular style and be more cautios. This can be a serious trial for the Austrians who will have to challenge AEK without a plenitude of missing players.
Thorsten Fink yet can’t rely on the injured captain and goalkeeper Robert Almer, as well as on Heiko Westermann, Ruan, Alexandar Borkovic, Christoph Martschinko, Florian Klein, Alexander Grünwald, who are all injured. Besides midfielder Grünwald, all others are defenders and this requires some internal rotations by “The Violets” so the defensive midfielder Tarkan Serbest is once again expected to start as a centre-back alongside Abdul Kadiri Mohammed, who missed a few Bundesliga games due to suspension.
AEK have their own concerns but they are not so massive and Manolo Jimenez has some adequate replacement. First, captain Petros Mantalos is expected to return at the end of the season or maybe for the next season, since he recovers from a cruciate ligament rupture. Another player who is likely to miss out is the central midfielder Jakob Johansson, who scored the winning goal for Sweden in the FIFA World Cup playoff against Italy but got injured early in the second leg.
Final Prediction and Betting Tip
Under all these circumstances we won’t be surprised if AEK’s coach prefers to field a 3-4-1-2 formation again. The 3-4-1-2 (or 3-5-2) obviously works smoothly for the Greek side and they haven’t lost a match playing with three central-defenders since early-August, when CSKA beat them 1:0 in Moscow.
Our betting prediction goes on the away team – AEK can sit back and wait to hit on counter attacks, which should be the winning approach against the shaky-reduced defensive line of Austria Vienna, that must chase a mandatory victory though. We will pick the Asian Handicap 0 (Draw No Bet) on AEK for extra insurance, since a draw can also be a very acceptable result for them.
Possible Lineups of Austria Vienna and AEK Athens
Venue: “Ernst-Happel-Stadion”, Vienna.
Referee: Craig Pawson from England.
Austria Vienna: Patrick Pentz – Petar Gluhakovic, Abdul Kadiri Mohammed, Tarkan Serbest, Thomas Salamon – Raphael Holzhauser – David de Paula, Dominik Prokop, Ibrahim Abdullahi Alhassan, Felipe Pires – Christoph Monschein. (4-1-4-1)
AEK Athens: Giannis Anestis – Michalis Bakakis, Dmytro Chygrynskiy, Ognjen Vranjes – Rodrigo Galo, Konstantinos Galanopoulos, Andre Simões, Helder Lopes – Lazaros Christodoulopoulos – Marko Livaja, Sergio Araujo. (3-4-1-2)