Aberdeen vs RoPS RovaniemiUEFA Europa League, KO: 19:45 Jul 11, 2019, Pittodrie
ABERDEEN fell at their first hurdle in last year's Europa League qualifiers but that was mainly down to bad luck in the draw as they were paired with Burnley.
And despite the vast gulf in finances between the sides, the Dons gave a good account of themselves against the English Premier League outfit, taking it to extra time at Turf Moor before eventually losing 4-2 on aggregate.
The draw has been far kinder on Derek McInnes' side this season, pitting them against RoPS Rovaniemi of Finland in their first qualifier, and it's a tie they should win.
Aberdeen have claimed some notable scalps in Europe under McInnes, albeit they have fallen short in their goal of reaching the group stage.
The teams that eventually knocked them out – Real Sociedad, Kairat, Maribor and Apollon Limassol – are all a cut above RoPS so the Dons should have enough experience to see their way past the Finns.
RoPS finished second in their domestic league last season, their best ever campaign, but now sit third from bottom after a poor start to the new campaign.
Although the Finns made the quarter-finals of the Cup Winners' Cup back in 1988, eventually losing to Marseille, their recent European record isn't that great.
They have played just three Europa League qualifiers since the 1990s and have come out on top just once, a 3-1 aggregate win over Shamrock Rovers in 2016.
Asteras Tripolis of Greece and Croatian side Lokomotiva both enjoyed comfortable wins in the other two games so Aberdeen shouldn't have too hard a time.
McInnes has lost some key players this summer, with the likes of Gary Mackay-Steven, Graeme Shinnie and Max Lowe all moving on. But he has made some shrewd moves in the transfer market, most notably bringing experienced Derby midfielder Craig Bryson back to Scotland.
Injury has seen Bryson fail to feature in pre-season but McInnes has hinted he could be thrown in for his debut against the Finns at Pittodrie.
Ash Taylor and James Wilson have also returned to the club while Curtis Main, Greg Leigh, Ryan Hedges and Jon Gallagher have bolstered the ranks.
Landing former Manchester United loanee Wilson on a permanent deal could turn out to be a coup for the Dons and he'll ease the burden on last season's top scorer Sam Cosgrove.
Wilson looks good value in the anytime scorer market and William Hill, one of the few firms to price up that market, offer 6/5. At longer odds, Lewis Ferguson could be a good shout at 11/4 with the same firm.
Aberdeen don't offer much value for the win at a best 22/125 with Marathonbet but if you double that with a clean sheet you can get odds of evens at Boylesports. The Dons should be stronger at the back this campaign so that looks a decent option.
This UEFA Europa League match between Aberdeen and RoPS Rovaniemi will be played on Jul 11, 2019 and kick off at 19:45