Levski Sofia VS Maribor Prediction
After the goalless draw one week ago, Maribor and Levski Sofia will have to decide who’ll reach third qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League. Second leg, which will be held at “Stadion Georgi Asparuhov” in Sofia, will be decisive for both teams and “Blues” from Sofia will be influenced by the crowded stadium (already sold out).
Maribor returns in the UEFA Europa League for the first time after season 2013-2014 when “The Violets” reached the knockout stage, where they were eliminated by Sevilla. After few years in the Champions League stages, Darko Milanic’s men will have to fight for possible European breakthrough after the unconvincing season 2015-2016 for most successful Slovenian club. After five consecutive league triumphs Maribor were stopped by their “eternal rivals” Olimpija Ljubljana and this requires better efforts in the Europa League. All hopes are that Maribor will manage to benefit from the high club coefficient and to reach the Europa League groups, but surely biggest priority is winning of the domestic “PrvaLiga”. League which started only couple of days ago and Maribor achieved narrow success over Koper in Sunday evening.
Levski is back in the European competitions after three years of waiting and “Blues” from Sofia are surely motivated to avoid similar disappointments as in their last three attempts – elimination after their first duel. Levski lost by teams which were “underdogs” when facing them, but however, Spartak Trnava, FK Sarajevo and Irtysh Pavlodar were all final winners. Despite all these upsets, Levski has one key advantage and this comes from their stunning home form – 7 wins and only 2 draws in Levski’s last 9 Europa League home games. Of course, situation here is from completely different matter and Ljupko Petrovic hopes that his players will repeat the strong defensive effort from first leg in Maribor.
Rotations are not very likely and we don’t believe that experienced Petrovic will transform his lineup with Levski’s newest signing Simon Sandberg, when Aleksandar Aleksandrov and Dimitar Pirgov were really solid as central defender duo in the first leg.
Experienced centre-back Srdjan Luchin and summer signing Jean Deza will miss the round in Thursday night so if there are some rotations in “The Blues”, Nigerian forward Tunde Adeniji looks closer to the starting squad after replacing Ventsislav Hristov in the first leg.
Maribor will most likely start with the same squad used at home and we expect cautious approach by Slovenian team here. Maribor know that if they score in Sofia match will turn in completely different light for Levski and they’ll have to act in even more attacking way.
We expect another low-scoring affair between both sides as both coaches surely realizes how important one goal can be here. That’s why we don’t expect desperate attacking by any of them, at least in the first half, and we expect similar outcome as in Maribor – “Under 2 Goals“.
Referee: Michael Tykgaard from Denmark.
Venue: “Stadion Georgi Asparuhov”, Sofia.
Possible starting squads of Levski Sofia and Maribor
Levski Sofia: Bojan Jorgacevic – Veselin Minev, Dimitar Pirgov, Aleksandar Aleksandrov, Sasho Aleksandrov – Jeremy de Nooijer – Roman Procházka, Añete, Georgi Kostadinov, Francis Narh – Ventsislav Hristov. (4-1-4-1)
Maribor: Jasmin Handanovic – Adis Hodzic, Marko Suler, Denis Sme, Erik Janza – Dino Hotic, Marwan Kabha – Sintayehu Sallalich, Maros Tavares, Dare Vrsic – Milivoje Novakovic. (4-2-3-1)