INVERNESS make their European debut against Romanian side Astra Giurgiu on Thursday. How does Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) see it going?
Inverness v Astra Giurgiu | Thursday 19:45
21 was the age I was when I left home and moved to the city, for Inverness it's the age they make their European debut. After winning the Scottish Cup in May and finishing third in the Premiership they take their place in the Europa League.
Their opponents are Romanian outfit Astra Giurgiu. Giurgiu finished fourth in the Romanian league last season and come into this season's competition after an impressive showing in the last two renewals of the Europa League.
Marius Sumudica's side had their inaugural European campaign in 2013/14 and took to it like a duck out of water. Slovenian side Domzale and Cypriot outfit Omonia Nicosia were dismissed in the opening two rounds before a victory over Slovak's AS Trencin set up a play-off encounter with Maccabi Haifa. Sadly for Astra they succumbed to a 3-1 defeat in that tie to fall short of the group stage.
That near miss was put right last season though when they knocked out French institution Lyon in the play-off round to take their place in the group stage. Naturally they found it tough in the group with four defeats out of six, but a home win over Dinamo Zagreb and a 1-1 draw with Celtic put a sheen on their adventure.
Astra have won five of their eight away matches in Europe and look good at Evens in Inverness. The Romanians seem to be learning more and more about Europe and I fear for John Hughes' side in the current climate of Scottish sides struggling early in Europe.
It's a huge night for the Caley Jags and they may rise to the occasion so I'll avoid backing their opponents at Evens and instead back them to win by exactly a goal and by two. Experience should count here.
Inverness v Astra Giurgiu – Astra Giurgiu to win by exactly one goal (13/5 Paddy Power)
Inverness v Astra Giurgiu – Astra Giurgiu to win by exactly two goals (5/1 Paddy Power)
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