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Aberdeen v NK Maribor Preview

July 26, 2016 5:15 pm Author: Aberdeen FC
Aberdeen v NK Maribor Preview

Aberdeen Manager | Derek McInnes | Pre-Match media conference | 26 July 2016 | Aberdeen v NK Maribor | Europa League 3rd Qualifying Round 1st Leg 

What are your thoughts ahead of Aberdeen v Maribor game?

“Like it has been since Thursday night really, we are really looking forward to it, there is a lot of anticipation about the tie and obviously the level of opposition adds to that. I think the crowd will indicate a bigger game, the opponent indicates a bigger game and I’m just glad to put ourselves up against them and show we are a good side, hopefully we can come through the tie. I’m full of respect for Maribor, their team, their organisation and their recent history all deserve respect”.
The last two years they have carved out a good reputation, how big a step up would you say that they represent from the first and second round games? (against Fola Esch and Ventspils)

“I think that it is clear. They have had some very good results in recent years. Looking even at the last tie, Levski Sofia were a good side and having watched the game it could have went either way. What was really quite telling from it was the maturity and calmness of Maribor. Even when they went behind in Sofia they kept playing their game knowing an away goal would get them through. I think that comes from playing European football that you get that confidence. I also think they look like a team that are comfortable within their shape.

“Although they have lost some good players over the summer who scored a lot of goals for them and were influential, they still have a lot of other good players and they have a fantastic squad. They played a league game on Sunday and won with virtually a different starting 11 so they have strength in depth. They have a way of playing, they are very well organised and their refusal to panic when they went behind in Sofia has probably got them through into this tie”.
What kind of threat do you think they will pose your team and how confident are you that you can deal with that?

“They take a lot of confidence from their teamwork and their shape. They have the ability to defend a little bit deeper and look to counter-attack and when they counter-attack they do it very well and quickly and we need to be very aware of that and recognise the areas we want to play and look after the ball, like you have to in European football anyway, but especially against a team who are quick to get forward and join in with their front two.
Above all else we want to win the game and do all we can to win the game at home. At the same time it is important we still have a result going over to Maribor. Maribor themselves drew 0-0 at home against Sofia and still got through the tie with their away goal proving very important. Ideally we want to try and impose ourselves and get that balance between attack and defence right, but we don’t want to be giving ourselves a mountain to climb by losing goals here at Pittodrie”.
Maribor have a reputation as Scottish slayers from recent years, do you think this is a draw they will have relished and think it is a favourable draw for them?

“You’d need to ask them that. They are favourites. Regardless of who we get at this stage we are going to be the underdogs, as we are for this one, but we were underdogs against Rijeka and Groningen. We are confident in our own abilities to get the right result. Whether they are confident drawing us you will need to ask them. They’ll take confidence from their recent history in Europe more than anything and not just against Scottish teams. Scottish football has taken a bit of a kicking given some results recently, but we want to present ourselves first and foremost and get the reputation of our club at the forefront of people’s minds.
You say you are underdogs, would you say there is a gulf between your own team and Maribor or the resources between the two clubs?

“Yes there is, but that doesn’t mean they cannot be beaten. Groningen and Rijeka had a huge gulf in terms of resources between them and us. We’ve beaten the so-called favourites in the second round the last three years. We were up against the seeded team last time out in the form of the Latvians (FK Ventspils) and we are now underdogs against a recognisable team, but we can still win the game if we play well.

“We have learned over the last few seasons to deal with European football. I quite like the technical part of it and the tactical part as well. We want to win every game we play and we always try and go on the front foot to win games, but with the home and away situation we must ensure we stay in the tie as long as possible and have the confidence to go and score goals and have the right result.”
It will be the third time in the competition this year that you have played the first leg at home. As a manager do you prefer that or would you rather take the game back to Pittodrie and have the crowd behind you?

“I think you can look at it both ways. Certainly from the Groningen game here when we drew 0-0, people maybe made the assumption that was us out, but the total reverse happened when we scored as there was a huge pressure on them at home to try and deal with that so I think you can always plant that seed as an away team. I do always think it is important though that the home result is a good result. If it’s a terrible result it makes the challenge so much more difficult. I think we’ve got to be mindful of that and the crowd need to be mindful of that over two games. Whilst we are not setting out to draw the game, we are going out to win the game of course, but there are different ways to skin a cat. There is maybe a slight advantage in bringing the home tie second, but there are enough examples of when that hasn’t always been the case”.
A big crowd is expected, how important is it they get behind the team so you have something to take over to Maribor?

“It was so encouraging this morning when we leave for training, seeing the queues outside the ticket office. I hope we can get a right good atmosphere in here. Their involvement and participation is so important to us. We look at so many grounds, Maribor and Levski Sofia in the tie we have just witnessed, the passion and energy coming from the side-lines is fantastic and there to be admired. I want people from Maribor to remember our crowd and remember the atmosphere at Pittodrie.”
Team news?

“Everyone fit, only Callum Morris won’t make the squad. Although he is back involved with bits and pieces in the training, he is probably still a few days away before we can get a game into him, so he is the only one”.
How impressed have you been with trialist Khalid Aucho so far?

“He’s done absolutely fine. It’s never easy for a boy coming from that side of the world, it is totally different to what he is used to in terms of temperature, style of play and everything else. He has shown a real eagerness, he is a good kid, he’s worked hard. We will try and get a closed door game for him in the next few days or so, so we can have a proper assessment of him, but he’s done fine in training and he can be pleased with what he has shown so far”.
Any other update on anyone coming in?

“No. There will be nothing happening in or out, certainly before Thursday’s tie”.


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Late Hayes goal gives hope

July 29, 2016 12:17 am Author: Aberdeen FC
Late Hayes goal gives hope


Derek McInnes gave Jayden Stockley the nod ahead of Kenny McLean with the manager choosing to play a 4-4-2 instead of the formation of 4-2-3-1. The teams were greeted to a great reception from the red army. Ticket sales were just over the 17,000 mark heading into kick-off, with the south stand and the main stand selling out.

The Dons went into the game as the underdogs, but started the game extremely strongly.

Maribor kicked off the game, with the Dons choosing to shoot away from the sun in the first half, which meant usually they were attacking the RDS in the first half. The hosts were nearly off to the perfect start when Adam Rooney neatly controlled a Niall McGinn free-kick. With his back to goal he put the ball across the face of goal and Jayden Stockley was only inches away from converting. From the resulting corner Stockley’s header was cleared off the line. The manager’s decision to play with two strikers already looked to be having an effect as Aberdeen created three openings in the first three minutes.

Aberdeen had started brilliantly and had another chance when Hayes went rampaging down the line and after he found McGinn, Niall went close with a volley.

A nervy exchange at the edge of the Aberdeen penalty box showed the kind of football Maribor are capable of producing. A last ditch Shay Logan tackle stopped Tavares from totally weaving his way through the Dons defence. With Joe Lewis diving early the defence was quick to react to Novakovic who had picked up the rebound.

Back came the Dons. Good tenacious play from Ryan Jack – who was superb tonight – won the Dons a corner. The ball was cleared but a defence mistake saw Rooney pounce. The Dons had a three on three but Adam was quite entitled to shoot as he had an opening. Keeper Handanovic only just got enough on the ball to keep it out.
The ball went underneath him but he was able to gather.

If the first 10 minutes were anything to go by it was shaping up to be a wonderfully entertaining tie. Aberdeen were looking considerably sharper than when they first lined up against CS Fola Esch four weeks earlier. Jonny Hayes made two blistering runs down the left wing, and a Niall McGinn free-kick nearly resulted in Ash Taylor troubling the goalkeeper.

With momentum going the way of the reds Maribor unleased a counter with Tavares beating Considine to find Kabha in the middle with his cross. Kabha didn’t look balanced and put his shot well over the bar. A reminder to the hosts that while an attacking mentality is important with the crowd behind you, conceding an away goal would totally turn the tie around.

25 minutes in and Jonny Hayes was causing the visitors’ defence problems again. He twisted and turned his way past Denis Sme, his pass found Jack in the middle who spread it out to the overlapping Andrew Considine and his brilliant cross was only just missed by Rooney and then by Stockley. It was a great opportunity for Adam to score who was only inches away from getting a touch.

The noise was beginning to build inside Pittodrie.

Despite both sides having chances to open the scoring the match levelled off between the half hour mark and the half time whistle. Maribor’s best chance came when Hayes gave the ball away in the middle of the pitch. Tavares looked as if his square ball would see Aberdeen go a goal down, however a tremendous block by Shay Logan kept danger at bay.

Aberdeen regained control and had some good pressure in the closing stages of the half.

On 39 minutes there was a big penalty shout for the Dons as Adam Rooney’s marker hauled him to the ground after Stockley had won yet another knock down. On 43 minutes they won a corner kick, where McGinn swept the ball in to the back post. Jayden Stockley’s powerful header was brilliantly kept out by Handanovic.

Aberdeen had so many half chances but no one could get the all-important touch. As the reds jogged off at half time they would have felt they should have been ahead.


The second half started with Aberdeen on the back foot. Maribor won a couple of corners which threatened but were successfully defended.

The Slovenian side had something of a “close shave” when Suler‘s header failed to connect with a Niall McGinn cross. Jayden Stockley had adjusted his run in anticipation of the clearance and was hugely unlucky not to be able to run onto the ball. While the big striker did manage to keep the ball in play his near post shot was turned away by Handanovic.

Having tried to play their way through the Maribor defence the Dons tried some route one football. McGinn hit a shot on the half volley wide on the right hand side, but it couldn’t find the target. Even Ash Taylor was trying his luck from far out, but his shot went harmlessly wide.

After 75 minutes Derek McInnes made a double substitution looking to take advantage of a tiring Maribor defence. Wes Burns and Kenny McLean came on in place of Graeme Shinnie and Jayden Stockley. The pace of Burns looks like it will cause a lot of teams’ problems in the season to come, and with Kenny’s creativity it looked to be a good move from the manager. Says a lot about the squad when you have players of that ability coming off the bench.

After 80 minutes it looked like, finally, the deadlock had been broken. Aberdeen broke well through the middle and McGinn flicked the ball through to Adam Rooney who, as he so often does, finished in style. The celebrations had already started when the linesman raised his flag for offside. Rooney himself did not complain at the decision, indicating he was indeed offside.

In a cruel manner the deadlock was broken a couple of minutes later when Ash Taylor couldn’t control the run of Novakovic who finished brilliantly into the left hand corner from inside the box. It was a goal that came totally against the run of play and stunned Pittodrie.

The Dons really had been hit but a sucker punch.

With the final whistle approaching the Dons threw everything at Maribor. With five minutes to go Logan played a deep ball into the area which Taylor knocked down for Rooney. Adam did well to hold the ball in before laying it off to Hayes and he drilled it past Handanovic. The reds were level!

With four minutes added on there was time for a few more Dons attacks. Wes Burns smashed a shot towards goal but it was deflected away from the danger area. A quick free-kick from McGinn could only find the goalkeeper’s gloves, as his curling ball was too far away from the pack of chasing players.

The full time whistle went on what had been a thoroughly entertaining night of football at Pittodrie. Maribor can
walk away the happier of the two teams having scored a crucial away goal, but Aberdeen, having played some very good attacking football, can go into the return leg knowing they are still in with a chance. Having enjoyed some great European nights over the past couple of seasons, we know that it is still all to play for in Maribor.



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