Infoinsport.com – Aris Limassol and Rakow Czestochowa will face each other on Tuesday for the second leg of their third qualifying round tie, as they compete for a spot in the Champions League playoffs.
Rakow, the Polish champions, are leading 2-1 after the first leg last week, and the team that emerges victorious will proceed to compete against either Copenhagen or Sparta Prague in the final stage before the revered group phase.
Aris managed to stay within reach of their opponents in the home leg match on Tuesday, thanks to a late goal from Mihlali Mayambela, after trailing by goals from Vladyslav Kochergin and Fabian Piasecki at Czestochowa’s Miejski Stadion Pilkarski last week.
It was a defeat that is becoming increasingly rare for Limassol’s third-biggest club. They had recently won the title last season, achieved success in the Cypriot Super Cup, and dominated Belarusian champions BATE Borisov with a total score of 11-5 in the second qualifying round of the Champions League.
Now, at the final stage before the decisive playoffs, Aleksey Shpilevsky’s team defied expectations by defeating city rivals Apollon and AEL to secure the top position in the Cypriot First Division last season. This achievement is particularly impressive considering that they had only entered UEFA competition at the beginning of the 2022-23 season.
On that occasion, Aris was eliminated from the second qualifying round of the Europa Conference League. However, with the support of an ambitious president at the new Alphamega Stadium, highly-rated coach Shpilevsky is now determined to lead them to greater success in Europe’s premier tournament.
Since the Light Brigade has not yet begun the defence of their domestic title, they have had the opportunity to recharge and prepare on their home soil for their upcoming match against Rakow this week. Rakow, on the other hand, has already played three games in the new Ekstraklasa season.
Dawid Szwarga’s team, who have already eliminated Flora Tallinn and Qarabag in the Champions League qualifiers, have earned four points from their first three matches in the Polish top division after a thrilling 2-1 loss to Piast Gliwice on Friday.
After Kochergin scored a late equalizer, it seemed like Rakow would maintain their unbeaten record. However, a last-minute goal by the opposing team ultimately resulted in the champions going back to Czestochowa without any points.
After winning the title for the first time last season, the Medaliki have the potential to make a remarkable group-stage debut in the Champions League, with just three games remaining. They also have a consolation prize if they happen to lose their lead in Limassol.
The team that exits on Tuesday night will compete against the loser of a tie between Slovan Bratislava and Maccabi Haifa in the Europa League playoffs.
Aris Limassol vs Rakow Czestochowa Prediction
Aris Limassol possible starting lineup:
Vana; Boakye, Brorsson, Yago, Caju; Struski, Szoke; Stepinski, Gomis, Bengtsson; Mayambela
Rakow Czestochowa possible starting lineup:
V. Kovacevic; Svarnas, Arsenic, A. Kovacevic; Sorescu, Berggren, Papanikolaou, Plavsic; Kochergin, Piasecki, Carlos
Aris Limassol 1-1 Rakow Czestochowa (Rakow win 3-2 on aggregate)
Despite Aris should have the majority of possession – as they did in Poland last week – Rakow was undoubtedly the top defensive team in Poland last season and has the ability to restrain them. The match is expected to be intense and closely contested, with minimal differences between the two teams, but it will be the visiting team that ultimately advances.