Dundee United will need to overturn a one-goal deficit in Athens tonight if they are to progress through to the group stages in the Europa League.
The visitors are certain to face a rather surreal arena as they attempt to do so, as the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium will only be attended by one set of fans. Fortunately those 600 or so supporters will be of Arabs persuasion after AEK Athens followers were banned from being present amid fears of potential clashes with fans of their temporary hosts and rivals Olympiakos.
“AEK are a quality side and, if the stadium is full or it is empty, it doesn’t matter,” Arabs boss Peter Houston told BBC Sport. “As far as the football side is concerned, they are still the top-class team we saw last week … The heat is obviously a factor,” he continued. “As soon as we landed, you could feel it and, even though the game is a 9pm kick-off, it will still be very hot. So we’ll have to make sure that the players have plenty of water available. When Scottish players go into these conditions, it’s always a bit harder.”
AEK Athens Team News:
As available …
Player to watch: Rafik Djebbour
French-born Algerian international who scored the only goal at Tannadice in the first-leg.
Dundee United Team News:
Experienced defender Darren Dods could be recalled after being left out of the last two games, during which the Arabs have shipped five goals. Midfielder Danny Swanson has recovered from a recent Achilles problem and travelled but won’t start. Strikers Jon Daly and David Goodwillie will lead the attack as the visitors search for a way back into the tie following their slender defeat in the first-leg.
Dundee United (from): Pernis, Dixon, Dillon, Dods, Kenneth, Douglas, Conway, Gomis, S. Robertson, D. Robertson, Buaben, Swanson, Cadamarteri, Casalinuovo, Daly, Goodwillie, Shala, Russell, Banks, Mentel
Player to watch: Dusan Pernis
Slovakian international keeper who will be desperately keen for a clean sheet if at all possible with his side already one behind in the tie.
Match Facts & Stats
First-leg: Dundee United 0 AEK Athens 1
Dundee United: Pernis, Dillon, Dixon, Kenneth, Watson, Conway, S. Robertson (Cadamarteri 81), Buaben, Gomis, Daly, Goodwillie
subs (unused): Banks, Dods, Douglas, Shala, Casalinuovo, Russell
AEK Athens: Sebastian Saja, Manolas, Jahic, Dellas, Kafes, Leonardo (Nathan Burns 71), Makos, Lagos, Djebbour (Diop 81), Scocco (Eder Luis 89), Liberopoulos
subs (unused): Arampatzis, Karabelas, Georgeas, Blanco
Goals: Djebbour (11)
Ref: M. Strahonja
Three words … COME ON UNITED!
Dundee United – Hearts (A)