Dundalk vs AEK Larnaca
Dundalk did a proper job in the first qualifying round for Europa League, as the team managed to prove themselves pretty worth against Estonian side Levadia Tallin. They already got the victory in the first leg away from home by narrow 1:0 result and made their lives far more easier for the returning leg.
However, should be said that Levadia had their chances as well in the first leg in front of own fans. Dundalk looked better in the second leg especially at the beginning of the match. Thanks to goals from Hoban and Duffy they got the double lead inside the first halftime, while Debelko reduced the deficit towards the halftime whistle. The second halftime wasn't that interesting as Levadia tried, however without making real concrete chances.
As for the domestic league, Dundalk is doing more than fine job this time. They are leading the table with a point more than second placed Cork City and are having a game less played. They are currently on a run of ten victories in a row in Premier Division, obviously hitting the form when it was needed the most.
Combined with Europa League victories and a victory in League Cup competition, the side has recorded thirteen consecutive wins at the moment. No doubt that they are realistic looking at the chances for the group stage here, but the side also aims to use the moment and make the lives of Cypriots as difficult as possible.
They are usual participants of early European rounds in previous years. Most notable was their participation in 2016/17 season when the team got eliminated in the play-offs of the Champions League by Legia. However, they ended up playing in the group stage of Europa League taking four points in matches against Zenit, AZ and Maccabi Tel Aviv. Last season they were excluded by Rosenborg in the second qualifying round for Champions League.
AEK Larnaca didn't have that especially well previous season, but the things were improved by winning the domestic Cup in the finals against Apollon. They ended up fourth in the league, having no chance in the title race a long time before the season has ended.
With twenty victories, eight draws and eight defeats overall, there's no doubt that they weren't satisfied with the league performances and will be looking to improve heavily this season.
During the friendly matches, the side had draws against Lech Poznan and AEK Athens (both goalless matches), while they won narrowly over Plock 1:0. In the most recent friendly match played last Wednesday evening, the side won over Paralimni 2:0, thanks to goals from Rousias and Truyols one in each halftime.
Central defender Mikel Gonzalez came from Zaragoza, while goalkeeper Tono came from Sociedad. Combined with right back Igor Silva who came on a loan deal from Olympiakos, they are most notable signed players till now.
Similar to Irish side, AEK also plays in recent years in Europe. They were stopped in the play-off rounds for Europa League group stage in last two seasons - both times to Czech teams - Slovan Liberec and Viktoria Plzen.
Knowing the moment of Dundalk, there's no doubt for me that the Irish side will try to do something more here in order to get a positive result for the second leg. Cypriots would probably be satisfied not to concede, however I can't see it happening here. They are more quality side, but with the competitive form being with the home team, I definitely see this clash much more open than what the odds suggest. All the value is with the goals in this one.
Dundalk vs AEK Larnaca prediction
Over 2.5 goals @ 2.10 with Pinnacle