St. Etienne are currently sitting 2nd in their Europa League, level on points with Anderlecht after their 1-0 win against tonight’s opponents Qabala. Les Verts will be eying a victory in what should be a routine victory in Azerbaijan and will be hoping that their Belgian rivals can slip up against Mainz in the other game in this group.
In Ligue 1, ASSE come into this game following a 1-1 home draw against high-flyers Monaco which leaves Christophe Galtier’s side 7th in the table, one point above arch rivals Olympique Lyonnais.
Their win against Qabala two weeks ago was their first in the Europa League this season, so the French side will be hoping that that result can prove to be a catalyst for a good run in Europe whilst trying to stabilize their domestic form.
For Qabala, they will be in search of a win that could keep them in with a faint chance of reaching the next round. That may seem almost impossible, but if they can deft the odds at home tonight, anything could be possible.
The Azerbaijani side’s form in domestic competition is the complete opposite of their fortunes in the continent. They currently sit top of the Premyer Liqa after 10 games and remain unbeaten, which is quite a contrast to their Europa League form.
Qabala are still yet to pick up a point this Europa League campaign, but will see this as a good chance to at least pick up a point against St. Etienne, who will be on the hunt to add to their 5 points.
Team news & Tactics:
Last time out against Monaco, Les Verts lined up in a 4-3-3 formation and responded fairly well after conceding early on to a Kamil Glik goal. It was a cagey affair between two of Ligue 1’s toughest teams, and it showed in how aggressive and scrappy the fixture was.
On occasion, ASSE were guilty of making silly individual mistakes, but against Qabala where they will have plenty of the ball and have to break down a stiff defence, they should have time to cut out any mistakes.
They will be faced with the tough task of trying to break down a team who sit back for 90 minutes, and whilst they did it in the home fixture, it may be tougher away from home where Qabala will have their fans behind them.
As for Qabala they come into this fixture on the back of a comprehensive 4-1 home win against FK Neftchi which kept them top of the Azerbaijani Preymer Liqa. They will be definitely defending for their lives in this clash, but will harbor hopes of grabbing something on the counter.
If Qabala can get anything from this game, I would imagine that they will be rather pleased with themselves.
Robert Beric (St. Etienne)
ASSE’s top scorer this season holds the key to breaking the Qabala defence this evening. If Les Verts can feed Beric the ball in and around the 18-yard-box, chances are he will tuck away at least one of his chances. This fixture is ideal for a player like Beric who feeds off of defensive mistakes and will be hunting the ball down until he gets his goal.
Filip Ozobic (Qabala)
The Croatian is Qabala’s second top scorer in all competitions this season, scoring 4 goals in 10 appearances. If he can get the ball off of St. Etienne and start some attacks, then maybe him and Frenchman Bagaliy Dabo can cause an upset and may surprise the visitors.
I fully expect much of the same from both teams, with the pattern following that of their previous meeting, where St. Etienne defeated Qabala. Qabala will feel more comfortable on home turf, but the fact of the matter is that they are the underdogs in this tie.
Christophe Galtier will set his side up to win, but he will be wanting them to win convincingly to add to their goal difference, which could become a huge factor is Anderlecht defeat Mainz.
I can see Qabala offering slightly more of a threat than before, but I still expect St. Etienne to win this without any issues.