Thursday night sees the second leg of the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round tie between Dinamo Minsk and AEK Larnaca. The first leg ended 2-0 in favour of the Cypriots, who travel to Minsk knowing they can lose the match by a single goal and still progress to the playoff round of the competition.
Dinamo Minsk are the second team from Belarus to reach the Europa League group stages after BATE Borisov. They have played in the group stages twice in 2014/15 and 2015/16 and are aiming to make it a third season in four. AEK Larnaca have also reached the group stages of this competition but only once before, which was in the 2011/12 season. They finished bottom of the group, picking up just a single victory.
Dinamo Minsk Form
The Premier League is well under way in Belarus and with 16 games played Dinamo Minsk find themselves third in the table, 2 points behind BATE Borisov and 5 points behind the leaders Shakhtyor. Having lost the first leg of this tie 2-0 in Cyprus last week, Dinamo Minsk returned to winning ways by defeating Dnepr Mogilev 2-1 at home in the Premier League. In 11 home games this season, Dinamo Minsk have lost 2 and won 8, with draws a rarity at the Stadyen Traktar. They have played 2 home games in the Europa League this season, winning both 2-1 and 3-0 respectively.
AEK Larnaca Form
Unlike their opponents, AEK Larnaca are in the off-season domestically, meaning they are only playing Europa League matches. Having begun the 2017/18 Europa League in the first qualifying round, AEK Larnaca were drawn against Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar and had no problem seeing them off, winning the tie 6-1 on aggregate.
The second round saw a tougher looking fixture against Cork City of Ireland but again AEK Larnaca performed well, winning both legs 1-0 to progress 2-0 on aggregate. Away form in the Europa League shows AEK Larnaca are a difficult team to beat as they have lost only 1 of their last 6 away games in the competition. This season they have picked up 1 win and 1 draw.
Dinamo Minsk are set to start this match with two men up-front in search of the goals they need to get back in this tie. Anton Saroka and Vladimir Khvashchinskiy are the top scorers in the team and will be expected to carry the attacking threat. AEK Larnaca are likely to play this match on the counter-attack and have French forward Florian Taulemesse up-front, with support from Hector Hevel in midfield.
Top Betting Tips
Dinamo Minsk have a decent home record in the Europa League but 2-0 is a tricky scoreline from which to come back. AEK Larnaca have shown themselves as being tough to beat away from home in recent years and the draw can be backed at 21/10 with William Hill. Defensively, Dinamo Minsk have conceded in 6 of their last 8 home Europa League games. AEK Larnaca have scored at least once in 6 of their last 8 away Europa League games. Both teams to score is Evens at Ladbrokes.
Expect Dinamo Minsk to start strongly but the longer the game goes on, the more space they will need to leave at the back which AEK Larnaca can exploit.Dinamo Minsk first-half/Draw full-time is available at 14/1 with Ladbrokes.