Hajduk Split vs Levski Sofia Prediction, Preview, H2H & Betting Tips
Hajduk Split will seek revenge for a lost duel against Levski Sofia 18 years ago. Once again stakes are high and if Levski already started its European journey, “Blues” from Sofia will be the first challenge for Hajduk Split who won’t be able to play at their home ground. Indeed, “Stadion Poljud” is booked for a music festival and Hajduk will take on Levski in suburbs of Split – at the “Stadion Hrvatski vitezovi” in Dugopolje. Unfortunately we won’t observe same hot atmosphere as it would be at “Poljud” since the stadium in Dugopolje has a capacity of around 5000 spectators.
H2H History: Hajduk Split vs Levski Sofia
Hajduk have old scores to settle when it comes to their Bulgarian opposition. “The Whites” from Split have been eliminated by Levski Sofia back in the 1999-2000 UEFA Cup qualifiers. Most of you will probably remember that was the former name of current UEFA Europa League.
Hajduk were hosts in the first leg again and after a goalless draw in Split, Levski won 3-0 in Sofia with goals by Georgi Bachev, Krasimir Dimitrov, and goalkeeper Dimitar Ivankov, who opened the score.
Europa League: Hajduk Split vs Levski Sofia 13.07.2017
Hajduk is on the eve of its first competitive fixture for the 2017-18 football campaign after finishing third in Croatian league last season. Joan Carrillo will make his European debut leading the club from Dalmatia and the Spaniard must defend its contract extension.
Levski heads to Croatia after an early morning flight on Wednesday and “The Blues” have been determined for underdogs before first leg in Split. Nevertheless, Levski has a slight advantage from the more match practice since Nikolay Mitov’s men have already begun their Europa League commitment.
Last week Levski travelled to the Western Balkans once more for a second leg against Sutjeska. After a 3-1 home win, Levski Sofia was pleased with the goalless draw in Montenegro but they need to show much more against the Croats.
Match Preview: Team News, Squads and Missing Players
Hajduk Split couldn’t been competitive enough against the surprising champion Rijeka and its eternal rival Dinamo Zagreb. That’s why at the end of the season 2016-17 “Whites” from Split had 19 and 17 points respectively behind the two above-mentioned clubs. However, we all know that Hajduk and Croatian clubs generally are motivated and are looking for a European breakthrough.
The core of players is kept besides Brazilian defensive midfielder Jefferson who recently joined Portuguese Chaves. In the meantime midfielders Hamza Barry and Savvas Gentsoglou, who were both previously on loan in Split, have joined the club on permanent deal. Other interesting summer signings made by Hajduk are names of Josip Radosevic (Red Bull Salzburg), Borja Lopez (Barcelona B), Andre Fomitschow (NEC), Ivan Pesic (RNK Split), Edin Sehic (NK Zagreb). Some of them are in contention for a starting position and best chances are of centre-back Borja Lopez, as well as of midfielder Josip Radosevic.
Like we already mentioned Levski gained match practice in both first round fixtures vs Sutjeska, where we’ve seen their main strengths but main weaknesses as well. Nikolay Mitov can be pleased with summer signings made to improve Levski’s midfield and attack, but situation in defense remains pretty shaky in our opinion.
Biggest concern of Nikolay Mitov is the right-back where Milos Cvetkovic couldn’t justify the expectations of his summer arrival in time, so we won’t be surprised if captain Roman Prochazka takes his role. Normally the Slovak feels better on his typical central midfield position but he also played as a right defender a few times. This may open a place in midfield for some of the newest signings in Levski – Romanian Nelut Rosu and experienced Spaniard Jordi Gomez. Antonio Vutov should return in the starting lineup as well.
Meanwhile, Levski will try to upset Hajduk with its African pace up front where expectations are that Francis Narh and Tunde Adeniji should push through the wings, while Junior Mapuku will be on top. Romanian striker Sergiu Bus is also an option but Mapuku, who scored two early goals against Sutjeska in Sofia, looks favourite to start again.
Hajduk Split vs Levski Sofia Prediction and Betting Tips
As we highlighted, Hajduk is considered for a clear favourite by the leading online bookies and the poor away form shown by Levski in Europe surely contributes for that. Their last away win in the UEFA Europa League remains seven years ago when “The Blues” won 0-2 in Dundalk, which has been followed by four draws and six defeats in followed 10 games on the road. Furthermore, Levski has scored just three goals in that term but we sincerely believe that the win over Sutjeska can be a turning point to team’s morale.
That’s why we find really good value in currenly suggested odds on “Both Teams To Score – Yes“. Our opinion is that Levski’s defense isn’t working so well and “The Blues” must score if they want to have a better chance in the second leg, which will be played on empty stadium due to a suspension.
On other hand Hajduk are the favourites and they usually play solid at home. A good reason to believe they will find Levski’s net at least once and why “The Blues” must try to score in Croatia.
Possible Lineups of Hajduk Split and Levski Sofia
Venue: “Stadion Hrvatski vitezovi”, Dugopolje.
Referee: Mohammed Al-Hakim from Sweden.
HNK Hajduk Split: Dante Stipica – Fran Tudor, Zoran Nizic, Borja Lopez, Andre Fomitschow – Josip Radosevic, Zvonimir Kozulj, Hamza Barry – Ante Erceg, Nikola Vlasic – Marko Futacs. (4-3-2-1))
Levski Sofia: Bozhidar Mitrev – Ivan Goranov, Dimitar Pirgov, David Jablonsky, Milos Cvetkovic – Nelut Rosu, Vasil Panayotov – Roman Prochazka, Antonio Vutov, Francis Narh – Junior Mapuku. (4-2-3-1)