ABERDEEN are back in Europa League action after somehow surviving against Shkendija last week, winning on away goals, and now face a tougher test in the shape of Rijeka.
Rijeka have reached the group stage in the last two seasons and have lost just five of their last 24 matches in this tournament.
They beat Feyenoord last season and drew with Sevilla so won’t fear a match-up with the Dons. Bookies rate Rijeka massive favourites at 1-5 to qualify and are a best 2-5 with bet365 to win tonight.
On the evidence of the previous round that’s worth taking but the Dons should be better with two games under their belts and will take some hope from Rijeka’s league opener against promoted Inter Zapresic which they drew 0-0.
Inverness face an Astra side we know well from last season. They also reached the group stage and were paired with Celtic – holding them 1-1 at home and losing 2-1 at Parkhead.
There should be a good atmosphere in the Highlands for the club’s first Euro tie but John Hughes has lost key men such as Marley Watkins and Edward Ofere from last season and the Scottish Cup winners look vulnerable.
Astra look a little short at a biggest 1-1 with Coral to win tonight and are 2-9 to qualify. ICT are 16-5 with McBookie to notch a home win and 3-1 at Skybet to qualify.
Best bet could be both to score at 19-20 with Coral as Astra have netted in all but two of their 16 ties in the past seasons but conceded 15 in the group stage.
West Ham are back in action against Birkirkara and are likely to use a similar squad to the one that saw off Lusitanos 4-0 on aggregate in the previous round minus the banned Diafra Sakho who could be replaced by Enner Valencia. It should be a result along the lines of 3-0 against the Maltese minnows.
Copenhagen are a short price at home to Welsh side Newtown who finished sixth in their league last season and Irish outfits Linfield and UCD face tough tests at Slovan Bratislava and Spartak Trnava respectively. Shamrock Rovers also have a difficult one at home to Odd.
St Johnstone as we know crashed to Alashkert and site regular and Saints fan Greg Browning wasn’t impressed by what he saw from the Armenians over two legs. He’s already tipped Kazakhstan outfit Kairat Almaty to beat Alashkert and I have to agree. They lie second in the Kazakhstan league and have spent a bit of money but are no bigger than 3-10 to win the home leg.
Another side I like are Ferencvaros. They had one of the toughest first-round ties against Go Ahead Eagles but came through strongly and followed up by beating Videoton 3-0 in the Hungarian Supercup at the weekend. They and Kairat could feature on my top tips which will be posted in the morning.
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