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NK Maribor v Aberdeen Preview
Travel plans have been disrupted again, what does that mean for you?
“No difference, we weren’t planning on training at the stadium tonight anyway. We wanted to be a bit more specific and train here this morning so there is no real change from that other than the players will arrive in Maribor a bit later, we will get to the hotel just in for dinner. The plans tomorrow will be as normal so there is not any real change to our preparations truth be told”.
Much more serious issue is the very sad circumstances which Maribor encounter, do you imagine that will affect the players of the club who you will face tomorrow?
“Firstly it is awful news.
“We heard yesterday and our deepest sympathies go towards everyone involved at the club and the families especially.
“You try to put it into perspective. What if that had been a 19 or 20 year-old from our club? You start to identify who those players could be and how close they are to the first team players. So there is no doubt that it’s awful awful news for Maribor and their players obviously. You never know how they react to that, but at the minute in a football sense it is secondary. It is just awful news that we don’t really want to be talking about, but very sadly it’s happened”.
Was there ever any doubt in your mind the game would or should go ahead?
“We’d obviously respect whatever was the right thing to do, but that has never been indicated to us. If that was the case we would have respected that, but we plan to go as normal. We look forward to the game, but I do think the tragic news that we heard yesterday has affected Maribor and ourselves in the build up to it and it’s unfortunate, really unfortunate and very very sad.
What are your thoughts going into the game?
“I’ve got full respect for Maribor and their recent history. I’ve watched five or six games and watched them at length and they give up very few opportunities to the opposition. The way they play with their defensive structure, how deep they defend at times, we had to find a way to get passed that and we were a bit more direct with our approach. We got plenty crosses in the box, that pleased me as I think it is something we can do more of and that was pleasing.
“I think that we certainly made them defend which is good for me and I think that is all we wanted to do. We will adjust how we play to how the opposition set up and we look at strengths and weaknesses of the opposition. Part of our job is to try and find ways to win a game and I felt we did so much right in the game at Pittodrie to win that match. The performance was excellent, we mixed our game up, we got it side-to-side, we passed between us sharply and in between the lines at times, but at times we mixed it up and went a bit more direct. Our performance pleased me no end”.
You went for the jugular in that game as you played Jayden and Adam from the start, will that be something you’d consider again or perhaps the fact you are playing away from home would you favour a more measured approach?
“Like I say it is a different game with the same opponent. We need to try and do what is right for the tie and we have to try and win the game over there. I always felt that to get through this tie we had to score away from home anyway, that was always the case. In an ideal world we wouldn’t have lost the goal which we did last week to them, which gives them that advantage, but I always felt when the tie was drawn that we would need to score in Maribor and nothing has changed. If we can be as positive in the final third as we were the other night and cause them as many problems as we did then I’m sure we will take opportunities and we are capable of doing that with the players we have”.
Looking at their team selection, they’ve been mixing it up in their domestic league, would you imagine the team they played here would be more or less the one you’d face out there?
“The two league games they’ve played prior to the first leg and preceding this game, they have made six or seven changes. There is a familiarity about the Maribor side, give or take maybe one, two positions so I think we could probably second guess their team to that extent. I think it will be more familiar to the team that played against us I’d imagine, certainly the system and how they want to play”.
“Everybody fit, Callum Morris won’t travel although he has been training, but he’s not up to speed yet. He’s the only one not travelling”.
Khalid Aucho, have you came to a conclusion if you will be offering him a deal?
“No we won’t be offering Khalid a deal. I have to say he has been an absolute pleasure to work with and he’s done absolutely fine. He just doesn’t quite fit the type of midfielder we look to bring to the club, but we wish him well and he is definitely a player of ability, there is a definite capability there so I’m sure he will go on to do well and we enjoyed working with him, but unfortunately there will not be an offer here from us”.
More to follow this evening from Maribor on www.afc.co.uk and RedTV.
Match Page - Formation
Match Page - Text Commentary
Dons bow out in Maribor
Derek McInnes made two changes to the side which drew at Pittodrie last week. Kenny McLean came back into the starting XI in place of Jayden Stockley whilst Wes Burns replaced the injured Jonny Hayes.
The Dons lined up with Joe Lewis in goal, and a back four of Logan, Reynolds, Taylor and Considine. Jack and Shinnie were the sitting midfielders with Burns on the left, McGinn on the right and McLean playing in behind Rooney.
Before the game there was a minutes silence as a mark of respect for the two young Maribor players who tragically died in a car accident earlier this week.
Not surprisingly the match kicked off with a slightly subdued atmosphere. The temperature had been over 30 degrees for most the day and even though the sun had disappeared down the back of the stand it was still very humid.
The opening exchanges were always going to be crucial.
In the first minute Ash Taylor produced a good defensive header after a deep cross from the right and then at the other end McGinn almost got on the end of a Rooney flick on.
As expected the home side were enjoying more of the possession but their passing was not hurting Aberdeen. In the sixth minute Wes Burns got his first touch and the Welsh winger did well to win a corner. McGinn’s deep ball in found Considine at the back of the area but his header looped up and dropped harmlessly wide.
10 minutes in and Aberdeen had settled well.
The atmosphere was now starting to build and the 300 or so Aberdeen fans were also making their voices heard. In the 11th minute a long ball was knocked down by Novakovic into the path of Vrsic. His shot was well hit but Lewis was well positioned to make a routine save. In the 13th minute Burns made another good run but in the end he was well tackled by Bohar. Then a minute later a superb through ball from McGinn picked out Burns who had run in behind the defence and was completely unmarked but he could not quite control the ball and Handanovic gathered at the second attempt. A really good opening.
Aberdeen were doing well. They were forcing their opponents to hurry their passes and they did not look comfortable. Jack, Shinnie and McLean were beginning to get on top in the middle of the park.
22 minutes in and McLean was taken down as he ran forward. As Aberdeen appealed for a free kick the Maribor defence lost concentration and a back pass from Suker was picked up by Rooney and as he rounded the keeper he was brought down. Although McGinn rolled the ball into the empty net the Bulgarian referee awarded a penalty and the keeper under the new rules was given a yellow card and not a red one, there was a case for the red as he showed no intention of playing the ball.
Very harsh on The Dons when advantage could and probably should have been played.
The referee then took ages to allow the spot kick to take place, and in deafening noise Adam Rooney saw his spot kicked saved by Handanovic after the big keeper dived to his right.
Aberdeen then forced a couple of corners, the second of which fell to Considine but his driven shot was blocked. Then in the 28th minute Maribor went close when a corner was headed just wide by Tavares.
In the 34th minute more good pressing in the middle of the park from the Dons allowed Burns to get a run in on goal. He had options to the left and right of him but decided to shoot himself and his effort was well hit but far too straight.
In the 35th minute Graeme Shinnie picked up a harsh yellow card. In the 38th minute Novakovic also picked an equally soft card. From the resulting free kick Taylor flicked it on. Incredibly three defenders let the ball bounce inside the six yard box and in the end Handanovic did well to gather the ball from behind Rooney.
On 42 minutes more suspect defending allowed Shinnie to get on the end of a ball over the top but his shot was once again well saved by the feet of Handanovic.
In the final minute of the half an Aberdeen corner put more pressure on the defence but as the ball bounced about the box they were helped out by the referee who awarded a free kick for some reason that was not obvious on first viewing.
The half time whistle then sounded with the Dons and Burns again in a promising position. Despite the missed penalty this was a decent first forty five from the men in red.
No changes for either team at half time and there was a chance for the Dons in the 46th minute when a long Considine throw was flicked on by Taylor. The ball ran through to McGinn but from a tight angle he blasted the ball over.
Then a minute later a Logan free kick from deep was flicked on again by Taylor but referee Popov gave a free kick against the Aberdeen central defender. He then incensed the Dons further when he awarded Maribor a soft free kick 30 yards out. Lewis did well to punch the shot from Vrsic clear and then claimed a good catch as the ball came back into the danger area.
On 49 minutes there was a great chance for Novakovic when the ball was cut back to him on the edge of the area but his shot was extremely weak.
On 50 minutes the first change. Jayden Stockley replaced Wes Burns. Then another great chance for Novakovic as he turned on the edge of the area but his shot was very well saved by Lewis who would not have seen the ball till very late. Novakovic then shielded the ball for Vrsic but his shot always rising and Lewis was able to watch it go over his bar without too much alarm.
The referee continued to frustrate Aberdeen. Popov decided to book Stockley as he challenged for a ball in the air. Then minutes later Janza was only given a yellow card for what appeared to be an elbow on Ryan Jack.
Just before the hour mark another flick on by Taylor caused more problems but the ball failed to land at the feet of an Aberdeen player. Then a ball in from the right was won by Considine at the back after it had gone over the keepers head but the ball looped out of play.
On the hour mark disaster for the Dons as Jayden Stockley was shown a second yellow card another challenge in the air. After a dominant aerial display at Pittodrie the striker was given no chance to use his attributes in the air on this occasion by the referee.
Having to play the last half hour with only ten men was going to be a really tall order for the visitors.
On 65 minutes Derek McInnes reshuffled his pack and brought on Miles Storey for McLean.
A minute later Considine put over a great cross which was just missed by Storey, Rooney and then Logan before some more baffling decisions from the man from Bulgaria who was not allowing any aerial challenges to be contested.
The home side, who were by now getting quite a bit of stick from their own fans for their lack of invention, made a change and Bohar was replaced by Bajde. Another change followed shortly after, Kabha coming on for Pihler. On 78 minutes a great chance for captain Tavares at the back post but he pulled his shot wide.
Aberdeen were showing amazing energy levels but they were not getting the same possession in the final third.
The game was now really open and on 80 minutes Considine produced a brilliant tackle on Tavares. Then on 82 minutes Jack made an equally brilliant tackle on Vrsic.
With seven minutes to go Scott Wright replaced Niall McGinn as Aberdeen made their final change.
On 84 minutes a rare break for the Dons after a great interception by Considine. Storey played it wide to Rooney and although Adam worked room for a shot his effort was comfortably saved.
On 87 minutes a smart turn and shot produced a good save from Lewis who had to get down quickly. One minute later the home side made their final change as Vrsicwas was replaced by Sallalich.
Late on Aberdeen threw a number of decent balls into the area but each time the assistant referees flag went for offside. There were five minutes of injury time but the Dons could not force a final opening despite Taylor going up front and in the final minute a bobble in front of Lewis after a back pass from Shinnie saw the ball land up in the net.
A cruel cruel night for the Dons who deserved so much more. Over the two legs the Dons did more than enough to win this tie but paid the penalty for not taking their chances.