Sturm vs AEK Larnaca
Sturm Graz couldn't do much better in the second qualifying round for the Champions League in last weeks when they faced up against Eredivisie runners-up from Ajax. It was already obvious in the first leg that the Dutch side is simply packed up with quality comparing to the Austrians. They have suffered 2:0 defeat in Amsterdam remaining with very low chances for the second leg.
That second leg match last Wednesday evening didn't go much better as Sturm suffered yet another, this time 1:3 defeat.
- Offensive quality, especially with Tadic and Huntelaar was obvious for the visiting side and there were very little offensive things done from Sturm with exception to a goal scored very late into the match as an own one.
As for the domestic league, the side has started with two 3:2 victories. In the first round, they overpowered Hartberg with that result in front of own fans, while the second round saw them winning away from home against Wacker Innsbruck last Saturday evening.
They were far more concrete when it was needed the most, taking the lead via Grozurek in the 21st minute, but also adding two early in the second part. Pink and Grozurek again were the goal scorers, while the hosts played a bit more relaxed from then on, managing to reduce the deficit thanks to two goals from Harrer in last fifteen minutes. Midfielder Jakob Jantscher remains sidelined without performing so far in the new season anyway.
AEK Larnaca didn't have that difficult opponent in the second qualifying round of Europa League, as they faced up against Dundalk. The side from the Republic of Ireland that previously excluded Estonian Levadia.
Their first leg game away to Ireland wasn't that interesting as it ended as a goalless bore clash. Both teams had some chances during the clash but it was too little to make the difference. However, the Cypriot side upped their game in the second leg, winning it comfortably with a 4:0 result.
- They have completely deserved such victory, proving that they are far more quality and concrete side.
AEK had great entrance into the match and it was already 3:0 towards the end of the first halftime. It was thanks to two goals from Trickovski and a goal from Tete. They continued being better in second as well, not allowing to the visitors to develop any sort of their offensive game. Finally, a goal from Tomas sealed the match in 87th minute.
They had a couple of friendly matches before the Europa League duties have started, drawing against AEK Athens and Lech Poznan, both times goalless matches. They've also won over Plock 1:0 and Cypriot side Paralimni 2:0.
Sturm, as many Austrian sides, need to fix some defensive gaps they have. However, this shouldn't be much of a problem as the visiting side from Cyprus surely doesn't intend to attack here heavily. I believe that the match comes in a perfect momentum for the home team, while AEK wouldn't be the first Cypriot team to disappoint so early into the season. Their league is far away from starting and they shouldn't be close to the level of competitive form Sturm got.
Sturm vs AEK Larnaca prediction
Sturm Graz Wins @ 1.72 with Pinnacle