Chikhura vs Maribor
Chikhura continues to carry the Georgian flag in this competition after brilliantly getting past Beitar Jerusalem with a 1-2 victory in Israel. It is particularly fascinating considering Georgian teams haunted inability to get results away from home. The team from Sachkhere have already at this point exceeded expectations and will now host the Slovenian side, Maribor.
The hosts are currently having an average season domestically, finding themselves on fourth place. They are coming fresh from a moral boosting victory in Jerusalem, scoring two late goals in 73rd and 83rd minute, despite going one goal down. The mental strength was impressive and something that coach Soso Pruidze surely must be proud of.
The team itself is very domestic, consisting of all Georgian players apart from goalkeeper Dino Hamzic from Bosnia with experience from Widzew Lodz in Poland. Other key players include the aggressive midfielder Lasha Chikvaidze, who is known for yellow cards.
The new star player is the young attacking midfielder Irakli Bughridze who already gave Beitar a handful of work with his technique and agility. The veteran goal scorer remains to be Giorgi Gadebava, who is one of the most reliable strikers in Erovnuli Liga.
Maribor is a team who have almost forgot what it feels like to lose a game. They are coming from an excellent preparation season with big victories over Kukesi, Ural and Cracovia, and also a 0-0 draw versus Copenhagen. Their first opponent in Europe, Partizani from Albania were easily passed with a narrow victory away (0-1), but more convincing at home (2-0).
The Slovenian league began on Sunday, where Maribor showed no mercy and discarded Rudar with 0-5. The Slovenian runners up are in terrific shape with three consecutive clean sheets, and have only failed to score once in over 30 matches (0-0 vs Copenhagen in a friendly).
Squad wise, it is a talented side with offensive power in Martin Kramaric, Dino Hotic and Luka Zahovic. At this point, Jan Mlakar has not been mentioned, another bright talented forward. Their common quality is goal scoring, but could also be highly interesting for foreign bigger clubs soon.
The Brazilian/Slovenian veteran, Marcos Tavares is 34 years old but very useful. The international experience level is significant, and Maribor surely want to enter the European stage again.
Darko Milanic is the coach since 2016 with an impressive winning record with only 19 losses in 117 games in charge. It is a massive point ratio which shows how tough this team is to beat.
Maribor is a team that excels in each game due to having a winning mentality and culture within the club. They have been the main Slovenian representor for several seasons. An away game is never easy in Georgia, but with their superior squad, tactical knowledge after being a regular competitive team and current form into consideration, Maribor is a notch too much quality for Chikhura at this point.
Chikhura vs Maribor prediction
Maribor Wins @ 2.10 with Bet365