Shkendija vs Cracovia by DamirJ
Shkendija is already having some European experience in previous years, as the team participates for fifth season in last six years in European competitions. Last year, they were unfortunate but gave a great fight to Scottish Premier League side Aberdeen, as the team got excluded only thanks to away goal rule after their 1:1 aggregate score.
Previous season it was a two horse race as for FYR OF Macedonia First League, as Shkendija was fighting with Vardar for the title, but in the end stood second with five points less than Vardar. On other side, they were thirty-one point ahead of third placed Sileks, while the team managed to get a title in their Cup competition, winning over Rabotnicki 2:0 in the big finals. This game will be played in Skopje, but the ground is Skopje has become their second home, since the team plays their European games for years there.
Their roster has few interesting players in comparison to the rest of their league, plus couple of Brazilians. Winger Ferhan Hasani is ex-player of Wolfsburg and Brondby, while Besart Ibraimi was part of Schalke, with some decent seasons in Ukrainian and Cypriot leagues.
Cracovia, on the other side, is the oldest Polish club in existence now and the team is back to Europe after eight years. Their last European participation was back in 2008, when the team got excluded in the first round of Intertoto Cup with a 5:1 aggregate score to Shakhtyor Soligorsk.
They have ended the previous season in Polish Ekstraklasa on fourth position, with seven points less than champions from Legia Warsaw. The team only secured the Europa League spot in the last round with a victory over Lechia Gdansk, while the overall impression is that the team anyway over performed for the most of the season and should be very happy with the success achieved. During the preparation period, they lost to Zilina 2:1, but improved against Ruch in a 3:1 victory few days ago.
Their best player, midfielder Bartosz Kapustska is with the Polish national team at EURO and surely represents a blow for them. Left back Pawel Jarodzynski (22/1 last season) is injured, as well as defensive midfielder Damian Dabrowski (25/1).
The game will be played at the same stadium where Rabotnicki and Buducnost played two days ago and such situation can only go in favor of Shkendija. Additionally, temperature in Skopje tomorrow should go in their favor, while the domestic side anyway has more experience in such situations and games. I give them some advantage for the first leg, even though Polish side remains favorite to progress and they know that much better chance lies with the second leg.