Gabala vs Samtredia by Isaiah
Gabala will be playing in Europe for the third straight season and the team actually left really good impression in previous two seasons, which were the only seasons in Europe for them. As one of the biggest underdogs, the team managed to progress to the group stage least season, winning over Dinamo Tbilisi, Cukaricki, Apollon Limassol and Panathinaikos during the qualifiers.
However, their draw in the group stage wasn't naive at all and the team managed to take only two points being drawn together with Krasnodar, PAOK and Dortmund, drawing twice against the Greek side. They are doing much better in front of own fans, as they recorded important victories over Dinamo, Cukaricki and Apollon and the same is expected today. The team needs to push from the start, knowing that they have less chances on the road.
They have finished the previous season at third position, with twenty-five points less than champions from Qarabag. Their biggest signing for now is midfielder Theo Weeks who previously played for Goztepe, Marimito and Ermis Aradippou, together with other two midfielders, Nika Kvekveskiri from Inter Baku and Filip Ozobic from Slaven Belupo. On the other side, striker Ermin Zec has left the club.
Previous season was their second consecutive season spent in first Georgian league, but the players of Samtredia were, without any doubt, the most pleasant surprise in the league, finishing it on second position behind champions from Dinamo Tbilisi. They ended up at second position with thirteen points less than players from Tbilisi and deservedly reached their success.
They tied up the best placed ranking in the history, since the club already ended up second, back in distant 1995, which saw them their first and only outing to Europe - when they got excluded in the first round to Vardar Skopje following 3:0 aggregate result in UEFA Cup first round. The team seemed quite ready for this game, since they won over Dinamo Bucharesti 5:1 in a friendly game few days ago, but have in mind it was the very first game for the Romanians this preparation period. Their roster is made only from the domestic players and players from abroad were really rare in their entire history.
Game might end as under 2.5 goals here, but my first betting choice will be home victory. Gabala showed plenty of skills last season, even when having in mind only their domestic players and having the advantage they always do have in front of own crows, I definitely see them getting away with a victory here, even though the qualification might not be sealed after the first leg.