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Match Preview | Aberdeen v Rovaniemen Palloseura
COMPETITION UEFA Europa League 2019/20
ROUND Qualifying Round 1, First Leg
MATCH Aberdeen FC (SCO) v RoPS Rovaniemi (FIN)
VENUE Pittodrie Stadium, Aberdeen
DATE Thursday 11th July 2019
KICK-OFF 1945 GMT (2045 CET)
Ticket information please click here
Aberdeen on Thursday will begin their 34th campaign and sixth in concession under Manager Derek McInnes. This will be our 136th game in Europe, of which we have won 54, scoring 197 goals – number 200 is hopefully just around the corner.
“I think we are now used the early starts to the season. The first couple of years we pretty much had the same squad, with just a couple of changes in the starting XI. The past three season’s, we have had to try and find replacements for four or five starters in the team. That is obviously a challenge for us and a challenge we are used to. This season we have brought in seven players and brought them in early to try and integrate them. There is no doubt as we go on, we will become better but it is whether we are good enough at this stage to deal with the game.
“Obviously the opposition have not hit the form of last season, but it was still a fantastic achievement for them to finish second in their division. They have conceded very few goals, they are strong both on the road and at home. There have had a few changes, to their manager, players have also gone in and out. Maybe those changes, as I have just spoken about with our own team, has maybe made them not click as much as last season.
“They certainly have the potential. They have a good level of player, they are a good technical team, they are a possession-based side. They want to set about the task and ask questions of you. They have some good technical players along with good experience. They have an idea of how they want to play, they open the pitch up to try and express themselves and you can see why they have done so well last season.
“We have to try and use our experience in these ties. We are a club who are familiar with this type of game so early in the season. This time last year dealing with the Burnley game, a topflight English Premiership Team, we were physically ready, we were motivated, and we brought a high level of performance. If we can get anywhere near that level of performance, it will give me every encouragement we can navigate this tie but there is work to be done and we recognise that.”
Derek McInnes Press Conference | please click here
“They are going to be a tough team. Out of the sides we could have got in our group, they are one of the tougher teams.
“So we won’t be underestimating them at all. We have had a good look at them the last couple of days so we have got some good information on how they like to play. Hopefully we can take advantage of that and we will be fully ready for them tomorrow night.
“There is no time for sloppy starts or using the excuse that it is still early in the season. There is no time for that. We have to be ready and give it full throttle tomorrow night.
“We had four weeks off. So you have two weeks of down time and then you start to get yourself ready for pre-season. There is a culture change from when I first started playing till now. The players are just fitter. Players are the ultimate athletes now.
“When you come back there is a competition to see who is the fittest and who is the best in shape. We have got some fit lads in the changing room so there are no worries from that side of things.
“European football is an attraction when you sign for the club. But even then you don’t realise just how special the Thursday night games are at Pittodrie. You get a special atmosphere. They are games that I love. Even the away games, you can get some really hostile crowds and they are enjoyable to play. It is more satisfying to win the game in that type of atmosphere.
“So we will deal with tomorrow night and hopefully get a positive result and ideally a cleansheet, then go to Finland next Thursday and hopefully if we are professional then we can get through the tie.”
Joe Lewis Press Conference | please click here
Joe Lewis RedTV Interview | please click here
Andy this week sat down and spoke to the Red Matchday programme editor, looking back at the 30 European games he has been involved in over the years.
You can watch part of that interview on RedTV, focussing on the memorable UEFA Cup run during the 2007-08 campaign, the season in which the central defender made his European debut against Dnipro.
To watch the feature please click here
RoPS qualified for a second successive Europa League campaign via a runners-up finish last season.
That success saw league champions HNK Helsinki move in the close season to appoint RoPS head coach Toni Koskela as their new manager.
Passi Tuuti was appointed as Koskela’s successor. Tuutti can also call upon former Marseilles, QPR and AC Milan full-back Taye Taiwo, who earned 54 caps for Nigeria. Brazilian attacking midfielder Agnaldo Pinto de Moraes Junior had loan spells at Manchester United as a teenager. The current Manchester United manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, signed Agnaldo for Molde. However, the underlying philosophy of RoPS is to produce young talent from their youth set-up.
They have a number of players with experience of Scottish football.
36-year old Spanish Goalkeeper Antonio Reguero played for Inverness CT and Ross County and was also the back-up keeper at Kilmarnock and Hibernian. And French defender Mahamadou Sissoko was part of Kilmarnock’s 2012 League Cup winning side.
Aberdeen have never played and side from Finland before in Europe but toured Finland as part of their pre-season campaign in the summer of 1994.
Founded in 1950, RoPS most notable international achievement came in 1987–88. After coming through two ties, they reached the Quarter Finals of the European Cup Winners Cup against Marseille. In recent years they have entered the UEFA Europa League qualifiers in 2014-15 and in 2016-17 when they won through against Shamrock Rovers in the first qualifying round. They qualified for the competition this year but finishing second in the Veikkausliiga, the premier division of Finnish football, their joint best ever finish. They were 16 points behind HJK Helsinki. They were also runner-up in 2015, losing the league title by one point to champion SJK and placed third in the Finnish Premier Division in 1988 and 1989. They won the Finnish Cup twice, in 1986 and 2013 and were runners up in 1962. They have won the Finland Second Division in 2010 and 2012.
RoPS Press Conference
The RoPS manager Pasi Tuutti and goalkeeper Antonio Reguero talk to the media ahead of Thursday’s clash. Please click here
We are pleased to announce that Dolly Digital will be designing the programme covers for a third season in a row.
I think we can all agree that our artist-in-residence has done a pretty fine job the past two seasons since taking over the paint brushes from Paine Proffitt.
After going for the retro covers last time around, this year’s programme theme will explore popular cultures.
The front of Thursday’s programme for the Europa League first qualifying round tie against Finnish side RoPS Rovaniemi has been inspired by an iconic computer game.
For more information please click here
RedTV International* will have live video coverage from 7.30pm on the night.
(*-Please note for rights reasons, the match will be unavailable on RedTV International within Finland. If you are an existing RedTV subscriber in Finland please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance)
Subscribers in Great Britain & Ireland will be able to listen to live audio commentary of the match and a full replay will be available for all subscribers from 10pm.
For more information please click here
GALLERY | photos from the Aberdeen training session click here
Enjoy the game everyone, COYR!
Match Page - Formation
Report | Aberdeen 2-1 RoPS Rovaniemi : Live
Match Page - Text Commentary
Report | Aberdeen 2-1 RoPS Rovaniemi
An impressive Aberdeen performance, full of quality but also packed with energy and endeavour that belied the earliness of the campaign, gave the Dons the lead in this Europa League first round qualifying tie. RoPS goalkeeper Antonio Reguero kept his team in the game with a string of fine saves, the value of which was underlined as the Finns grabbed an unlikely away goal in the final minute of the game.
The Club having announced his newly extended contract through to 2022 earlier in the day, Aberdeen boss Derek McInnes handed first starts to new signings Ryan Hedges and Jon Gallagher as the Dons embarked on a European odyssey for the sixth consecutive season.
In the opening minute, the Finns showed attacking intent, Rahimi with a driving run into Aberdeen territory before pulling his shot from distance well wide of goal. Seconds later, Niall McGinn responded, given space to shoot on the edge of the box before putting his looping effort over the bar.
There was some pinball in the RoPs box on six minutes, the Dons unable to find a clear opening, Shay Logan’s shot blocked and Gallagher then crowded out. A golden chance followed in the ninth minute, Andrew Considine bursting down the left and bending in an inviting cross to the back post, Sam Cosgrove poking just wide of goal from close range when under pressure from a defender.
The Dons were now camped in the RoPS half, winning a first corner in the 12th minute. Hedges ball in from the right was initially defended but Aberdeen worked the ball back to the Welsh international on the edge of the box, his fine shot clawed away for another corner by Reguero, McGinn’s ball in headed wide by Considine.
Llamas collected the first yellow card for an agricultural challenge from behind on Lewis Ferguson in the 19th minute, Ferguson getting up to put the free-kick well over the bar from 30 yards out.
McGinn was next up for a set play, a free-kick on the angle of the penalty area on the left side. Whipping the ball in, it was all too comfortable for Reguero. RoPS responded, Sihvonen allowed to run 20 yards without challenge before finding Kokko in the box, his shot deflected wide for a corner in the 23rd minute.
Katz found his way into the referee’s book in the 25th minute, a cynical body check on Logan as he broke through the middle, taking one for the team to deny the Dons an opening. Katz then whacked Cosgrove in an aerial challenge two minutes later and was a little fortunate not to collect a second yellow.
A low cross from McGinn caused panic in the 29th minute after Scott Wright dummied cleverly, Katz finally able to smash the ball to safety as the Dons continued to probe the Finnish defence. Good play between Hedges, Gallagher and Wright own the right ended with a blocked clearance finding Considine 25 yards out in the 32nd minute, his low shot snaffled at the foot of the post by Reguero.
Great defending by Hyvärinen denied Considine a tap-in at the back post after Logan’s cross was nodded across goal by Gallagher moments later as the Dons began to turn the screw again. The seemingly inevitable goal finally came in the 36th minute, Hedges doing well down the left before drilling a cross into McGinn. A super first touch got the ball out of his feet and gave him the opportunity to turn on the angle of the six-yard box before the Northern Irishman produced a neat dinked finish from a tight angle to give the Dons a deserved lead.
It might have been two three minutes later, McGinn standing the ball up to the back post, Cosgrove’s strong header forcing Reguero to make a fine save to tip the ball over. The resulting corner drew half-hearted calls for a penalty as the ball struck Taiwo’s hand, the defender then colliding with Cosgrove who was yellow carded, a very harsh decision.
There was almost a second just before the break when after Ferguson’s first effort from range was charged down, he pounced on the rebound and lashed a swerving shot goalwards, Reguero producing a very sharp save to his left to keep his side in the game.
The Dons found the perfect start to the second half, making it 2-0 in the 48th minute. McGinn picked Llamas’ pocket in his own half before setting Gallagher on his way. Showing good pace, he cut into the box and speared a cross into the near post, Cosgrove and Sissoko converging on the ball, Sissoko seeming to get the decisive touch to put the ball past his goalkeeper.
The Gallagher and Cosgrove combination almost worked again in the 53rd minute, Sissoko just able to get in front of Cosgrove at the near post to clear as Gallagher drilled in another dangerous ball.
Aberdeen were in total command now and neat approach work, again involving the impressive Gallagher, gave McGinn a sight of goal in the 55th minute, Reguero doing well to stay big and block his shot.
Hedges came close to opening his Aberdeen account in the 57th minute, Reguero saving well to his right, RoPS then countering, substitute Kada forcing Joe Lewis into action at his near post.
The Dons were still very much in control though, the game played largely in the Finns half as Derek McInnes made his first change of the evening, Hedges replaced by Dean Campbell in the 61st minute, the youngster making his first European appearance for the club.
Two minutes later, a lovely passing triangle between McGinn, Campbell and Scott McKenna down the left allowed the centre-half to then pick out Cosgrove. The big striker made a powerful first time connection, drawing another great save from Reguero who was keeping Aberdeen at bay almost single handedly, Taiwo then coming to his aid with a great clearance from the loose ball as Gallagher swooped down upon it.
Reguero was at it again in the 69th minute, saving instinctively with his right foot from Ferguson after he got on the end of a low Campbell free-kick at the back post, helped into his path by Cosgrove.
Sissoko finally got the yellow card he’d threatened all evening with a lunge on the irrepressible Gallagher in the 73rd minute, Derek McInnes using the opportunity to introduce Connor McLennan for the hard working Wright. From the resulting free-kick, McGinn picked out Cosgrove at the back post, his header a fraction too high when well placed. The two repeated the move moments later from a corner, Cosgrove heading over from slightly further out this time.
Still pressing for the third, it was McLennan’s turn to be denied by Reguero in the 78th minute, the substitute played in by a clever header from Cosgrove from Ferguson’s pass. Four minutes later, James Wilson became Aberdeen’s third change, replacing McGinn.
Gallagher was next to threaten goal, winning the ball 30 yards out before smashing his drive just over the bar. The new man did superbly again in the 89th minute, first winning the ball in the centre circle, then driving forward before finding Cosgrove whose shot was, yet again, well saved by Reguero.
Disaster struck in the 93rd minute, a weak clearance from Logan collected by Lingman who held the ball before playing a cute reverse pass into Jäntti, who galloped in behind the defence to bend his shot around Lewis and inside the far post, making next week’s trip to Finland just that little bit trickier.
ABERDEEN: Lewis, Logan, McKenna, Devlin, Considine, Ferguson, Gallagher, McGinn (Wilson 82), Hedges (Campbell 61), Wright (McLennan 73), Cosgrove
Subs not used: Cerny, Main, Taylor, May
GOAL: McGinn (36), Taiwo (og) (48)
RoPS ROVANIEMI: Reguero, Hyvärinen, Katz, Sissoko, Taiwo, Muinonen (Kada 57), Lingman, Sihvonen, Rahimi, Llamas (Jäntti 75), Kokko (Jokelainen 65)
Subs not used: Shishkovski, Ölander, Tamminen, Agnaldo
GOAL: Jäntti (90+3)
BOOKED: Llamas, Katz, Sissoko
REFEREE: Kaspar Sjöberg