A stunning win for Aberdeen last week, can they punish Rijeka again on Thursday? Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) gives us his best bets.
Aberdeen v Rijeka | Thursday 19:45
Aberdeen produced one of their best results in modern times last week when they beat Rijeka 3-0 in Croatia. It was a huge surprise considering the Dons were 7/1 to win the game. Now their challenge is to hold on to the aggregate lead and claim a place in the next round.
It’s really hard to assess this tie from a betting point of view. Aberdeen are 5/2 playing at home against a side they tonked 3-0 away just seven days ago. Seems crazy, but I really wonder about Aberdeen’s nerve here.
Rijeka are a side who’ve made decent progress in Europe over the last two seasons. They’ve been mixing it with the likes of Sevilla, Feyenoord, Lyon and Standard Liege and taking points from all of those sides. They’ve made the Europa League group stages in both of the last two seasons.
It’s been eight seasons since Aberdeen got that far in European competition but last year’s march to the third qualifying round was promising. However overall they haven’t been involved in the nitty gritty in recent seasons like Rijeka.
What really worries me (as someone who wants Aberdeen to go through) is the Dons’ record in high-pressure matches last season. After having an outstanding league campaign these games came against Celtic and every time they were found wanting. Four matches, four defeats. The big ‘title decider’ came on March 1st and Aberdeen were crushed 4-0.
Will the players experience the same level of nerves on Thursday night? Very possible. In this corresponding fixture last season Rijeka won 2-1 in Hungary against Ferencvaros and then went on to score five in the Faroes against Vikingur and three in Moldova against Sheriff. They need more of the same on Thursday.
It may be that Rijeka are sunk after last week but Aberdeen’s big game temperament worries me. You could even suggest their narrow away goals win over minnows Shkendija in the previous round gave further proof that when the pressure is on the Dons crumble.
I’ll keep everything crossed for Aberdeen on Thursday but back Rijeka at 5/4 with Unibet. I’ll also back them to score Over 2.5 Goals at 19/5 with the same firm.