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Europa League | First Qualifying Round | 1st Leg
Jul 11, 2024 at 6pm UK
Stadionul Satesc Vasieni

Sheriff Tiraspol
0 - 1
Zira FK

FT(HT: 0-0)
Volkovi (88')
Zebli (31'), Acka (40')

Preview: Sheriff Tiraspol vs. Zira FK - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Sheriff Tiraspol vs. Zira FK - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Thursday's Europa League clash between Sheriff Tiraspol and Zira FK, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Sheriff Tiraspol and Zira FK get their Europa League campaigns underway on Thursday night when they square off in the first leg of their opening-round qualifying tie.

While the Moldovan hosts are bidding for another appearance in the main stages of a continental competition, their Azerbaijani opponents have never progressed through qualifying.

Match preview

Having seen their dominant run in the Moldovan top flight come to an end last season, Sheriff Tiraspol cannot claim to have enjoyed a positive campaign.

Nevertheless, despite a second-placed finish, they did enjoy another European adventure courtesy of qualifying for the group stages of the Europa League.

That said, just one point came from six games against Roma, Slavia Prague and Servette, albeit with three of their five defeats being by one-goal margins.

Yuriy Hura has now been appointed as manager tasked with the responsibility of regaining the league title and going as far as possible on the continent, whether that be in this competition or the Europa Conference League.

Both teams have the backup of dropping into the latter tournament if they lose this two-legged tie, yet Hura knows that he will face a struggle to win over supporters if they succumb in a match-up of this magnitude.

Meanwhile, Zira have only been in existence for nine years and they are already slowly becoming regular qualifiers for European competition.

While it should be noted that they finished 25 points adrift of Azerbaijani champions Qarabag FK in 2023-24, coming out on top in a congested race for second was a big achievement.

Zira boasted an incredible defensive record last season, conceding just 22 goals in their 36 matches, and Rashad Sadygov will hope for more of the same on Thursday.

This is just their third experience of continental football. The only time that Zira have progressed through a two-legged tie came in 2017-18 when they beat Differdange 03 from Luxembourg 4-1 on aggregate.

Team News

Numerous players have departed Sheriff since last year, including captain Ricardinho and forward Thierry Nevers.

There will be at least four changes from the starting lineup from the final 2023-24 league game, with newcomers Matheus Lins, Peter Ademo and Ajak Riak all potentially coming into the side for their debuts.

Sadygov will have to make one such change with Rahim Sadykhov having left Zira in recent weeks.

Davit Volkovi, who has been signed from league rivals Sabah having previously represented Zira, could be handed his second debut down the middle of the attack.

Sheriff Tiraspol possible starting lineup:
Celeadnic; Ghecev, Lins, Bueno, Djibo; Ademo, Ramon, Badolo; Paulo, Riak, Akanbi

Zira FK possible starting lineup:
Silva; Aliyev, Renato, Acka, Bayramov; Ibrahimli, Zebli; Soumah, Nuriyev, Utzig; Volkovi

We say: Sheriff Tiraspol 3-1 Zira FK

Zira will be eager to take a rare opportunity on this stage to make an impact, yet they are the clear underdogs in this tie. Taking everything into consideration, we are backing Sheriff to come through in what could prove to be a competitive fixture for a time.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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