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Europa League | Playoffs | 1st Leg
Aug 24, 2023 at 7.30pm UK
Stadion Tehelne pole

Slovan Bratislava
2 - 1
Aris Limassol

Tolic (34'), Strelec (57')
Lovat (21'), Kankava (45+5'), Kucka (54'), Blackman (90+4'), Sharani (90+4'), Weiss (90+9'), Shpilevski (90')
FT(HT: 1-0)
Mayambela (73')
Stepinski (69'), Nikolic (72'), Caju (82'), Yago (90+5'), Brown (90+9')

Preview: Slovan Bratislava vs. Aris Limassol - prediction, team news, lineups

:Headline: Preview: Slovan Bratislava vs. Aris Limassol - prediction, team news, lineups:
Sports Mole previews Thursday's Europa League clash between Slovan Bratislava and Aris Limassol, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Sports Mole

Slovan Bratislava will welcome Aris Limassol to Slovakia on Thursday, for the first leg of their Europa League playoff-round tie.

Both sides dropped out of Champions League qualifying but are guaranteed group-stage football, with the winning team advancing to Europe's secondary competition and the losers dropping to the Europa Conference League.


Match preview

Slovan Bratislava earned a place in Champions League qualifying this term after their fifth consecutive Slovak Super Liga triumph, and the 21st in their history, last time around, having finished on 69 points from their 32 outings.

That saw them begin their push towards the group stage of Europe's premier competition in the first qualifying round, and they saw off Swift Hesperange to progress with a 3-1 aggregate victory, before meeting Bosnian outfit Zrinjski Mostar in the second round and prevailing narrowly, as Zuberu Sharani hit the only goal in a 1-0 away victory and they did enough to advance with a 2-2 draw on home turf courtesy of goals from Aleksandar Cavric and Sharani again.

Such a result guaranteed Vladimir Weiss's side continental group-stage football this season, and they continued their bid to make that in the Champions League as they then met Maccabi Haifa, but the Belasi quickly fell behind, losing 2-1 in their home leg and falling to a 3-1 defeat in Israel, with Marko Tolic's 86th-minute goal nothing more than a consolation.

On the back of that disappointment, and a relatively slow start to their new domestic campaign, in which they drew their first two outings before scoring a first win away at Skalica in mid-August, thanks to goals from Nino Marcelli and Tigran Barseghyan, Slovan Bratislava will now turn their focus to the Europa League with one two-legged tie between them and the group stage and will look to make the most of home advantage to go ahead in the tie on Thursday.

Their visitors also progressed through early rounds of Champions League qualifying before falling short this term, following Aris Limassol's first-ever Cypriot First Division triumph last season.

The Light Brigade finished the regular season in third spot, six points behind leaders APOEL, but they bridged the gap in the Championship round to finish three points clear at the summit and take the single qualifying spot for the continent's top competition.

Such a finish saw Aleksey Shpilevsky's side bypass the first qualifying round and instead enter in the second round against BATE Borisov, and they advanced in style, firstly dishing out a 6-2 beating on home turf as Yannick Gomis hit a brace alongside finishes from Leo Bengtsson, Jaden Montnor and Mariusz Stepinski and a Sidi Bane own goal.

They would further extend the lead in the second leg with a 5-3 triumph, as Gomis, Bengtsson and Stepinski were again on the scoresheet alongside Shavy Warren Babicka and Caju, but they were unable to progress any further past Polish outfit Rakow Czestochowa, eventually bowing out in the third qualifying round courtesy of a 3-1 aggregate defeat, having lost 2-1 in the away leg and stayed alive thanks to Mihlali Mayambela's late goal, only to then suffer a 1-0 defeat on home turf.

Now with renewed confidence on the back of a 2-0 home victory over AEK Larnaca in the curtain-raiser of their domestic title defence, thanks to goals from Montnor and Matija Spoljaric, Shpilevsky will make the tough trip to Slovakia for Thursday's first leg with the aim of scoring a positive result before returning home for next week's second leg to give themselves a strong chance of reaching the Europa League group stage for the first time.

Slovan Bratislava form (all competitions):
  • D
  • D
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • L

Aris Limassol form (all competitions):
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • L
  • W


Team News

Slovan Bratislava will likely deploy a similar starting XI to the one that was fielded in their second leg away at Maccabi Haifa last Tuesday in a 4-4-2 shape, with Guram Kashia and Kenan Bajric bound to again partner up at the heart of the defence, having both featured in every minute of their six Champions League qualifying matches this term.

Ahead of them, veteran Juraj Kucka should keep his place in the engine room alongside Jaba Kankava, while Sharani Zuberu will look to again cause problems on the wing after finding the net twice in qualifying.

Alongside Aleksandar Cavric, David Strelec led the line against Maccabi Haifa, although Dinamo Zagreb loanee Marko Tolic certainly has a claim to come in from the outset after his goal off the bench in that contest.

Aleksey Shpilevsky will again look to deploy an attacking Aris Limassol team, with Yannick Gomis bound to play a key role up front, having netted three goals in just four continental appearances this term, while ex-Hellas Verona man Mariusz Stepinski will likely spearhead the attack having netted three goals of his own.

There is competition for the other attacking spots too, with Mihlali Mayambela, Shavy Babicka, Leo Bengtsson and Jaden Montnor having all enjoyed success in Champions League qualifying, while the latter was also on the scoresheet in their league opener alongside Matija Spoljaric.

Karol Struski is a key man in midfield and will join either Morgan Brown, Veljko Nikolic or Spoljaric, while Steeve Yago, Franz Brorsson and Alex Moucketou-Moussounda are all fighting to start at centre-back with Shpilevsky having switched between a back three and a back four this season.


Slovan Bratislava possible starting lineup:
Borjan; Pauschek, Kashia, Bajric, Lovat; Barseghyan, Kucka, Kankava, Zuberu; Cavric, Tolic

Aris Limassol possible starting lineup:
Vana; Boakye, Moucketou-Moussounda, Yago, Caju; Struski, Brown; Montnor, Gomis, Bengtsson; Stepinski


We say: Slovan Bratislava 2-2 Aris Limassol

We anticipate a close encounter on Thursday between two sides with the tools to hurt one another, and while Aris Limassol are arguably more dangerous going forward, the Slovakian side will know they must make the most of home advantage, and we see it ending level on Thursday.


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


Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 2.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 2.5:data


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Premier League Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
Relegation Round
1Banska Bystrica105235041951
2Trencin1043348341449
3Skalica105233538-340
4Zemplin MichalovceMichalovce105232948-1927
5FK Kosice103162756-2927
6Zlate Moravce102262166-4512
Championship Round
1Slovan Bratislava1051476314573
2DAC Dunajska StredaDunajska Streda1063149321758
3Spartak Trnava1060447291857
4Zilina104245445955
5MFK RuzomberokRuzomberok103433843-547
6Podbrezova101094960-1137
 
Regular Season
1Slovan Bratislava22183157164157
2Zilina22125540301041
3Spartak Trnava2212373122939
4DAC Dunajska StredaDunajska Streda22107531211037
5Banska Bystrica229763830834
6Trencin229763123834
7Podbrezova2210484034634
8MFK RuzomberokRuzomberok229762831-334
9Skalica2265111925-623
10FK Kosice2245131945-2617
11Zemplin MichalovceMichalovce2217141942-2310
12Zlate Moravce2204181448-344
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