Oleksandriya vs Astra Giurgiu – Thursday 18:30 BT/19:30 CET – CSC Nika Stadium, Oleksandriya
After a 0-0 draw in Romania Oleksandriya’s dream of reaching the group stage of the Europa League lives on. Despite having defender Sergiy Basov sent off in the 79th minute Oleksandriya had the better chances of the game, and it was only thanks to Astra’s keeper Plamen Iliev that Astra still have a realistic chance of advancing to the next stage.
Oleksandriya in the meantime will feel that they lost a major chance of giving them an advantage going into the second leg. But with the tie heading to Ukraine Oleksandriya’s Nika Stadium should see a decent outturn for what could be the club’s most important match in recent history.
Last season at this stage Oleksandriya were already more or less eliminated as they heavily lost to Hajduk in the first leg. Now they have a chance to make history and reach the playoffs of the Europa League.
Oleksandriya vs Astra Giurgiu – Player to look out for:
Andriy Zaporozhan #29 – Oleksandriya
Andriy Zporozhan is the veteran in an Oleksandriya side deprived of any real stars. Signed by Oleksandriya from Enerhetyk in 2008 the 34-year-old Zaporozhan has played 235 games with Oleksandriya. The captain was already a major part of the squad when Oleksandriya was still a mainstay in the Ukrainian second division and played 144 games with the in the lower division. With Oleksandriya reaching the Europa League for the second season in a row this might be Zaporozhan’s last chance of European group stage football.
Alexandru Ionita #10 – Astra Giurgiu
Alexandru Ionita is Astra Giurgiu’s biggest talent. The 22-year-old was developed in Rapid Bucharest’s youth academy before signing with Astra three years ago. Playing nine games in his first professional season with Astra Ionita has slowly increased his playing time from 15 games in 2015-16 to 31 games in 2016-17. Scoring four goals and two assists last season Ionita still needs to work on his productivity, but the flexible attacking midfielder highlighted that he could be dangerous in the second round of Europa League qualifying scoring one goal and one assist in the two games against FK Zira from Azerbaijan.
Oleksandriya vs Astra Giurgiu– Match Stats
- Oleksandriya have qualified for the Europa League for the second season in a row.
- Last season the Ukrainians were eliminated 1-6 on aggregate by Hajduk Split.
- Astra Giurgiu have qualified for their fifth European campaign.
- The Romanians reached the round of 32 in the Europa League last season—their best result ever.
- Astra Giurgiu have never before faced Ukrainian opposition.
Futbolgrad’s Prediction: Oleksandriya vs Astra Giurgiu 2-1
Oleksandriya vs Astra Giurgiu – Possible Lineups
Pankiv – Batsula, Bondarenko, Gitchenko, Chebotaev – Zaporozhan, Banada – Polyarus, Grytsuk, Starenkiy – Sitalo
Manager: Volodymyr Sharan
Iliev – Stan, Erico, Polczak, Belu – Mrzljak, Dandea, Nicoara – Marquinhos, Chipirliu, Ionita
Manager: Alexandru Radu
Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist and social media junior editor at Bundesliga.com. He is also a holder of a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.