Qarabag looked really well in second round against champions from Georgia Samtredia, as the side took highly convincing victory at home against them 5:0 in first leg, but also sealed the victory in second leg on the road with narrow 1:0 result. Only goal was scored in 22nd minute via Guerrier as the sides looked quite similar, however with the visitors staying somehow a bit better on the field, looking more mature and serious.
Team from Georgia had their chances as well, however were probably disappointed with the conceded goal and overall 6:0 result already after first third of the second leg. Qarabag looked very dominant in previous season, taking the champions crown with ten points more over second placed Gabala, but also taking the domestic Cup with a 2:0 result over the same opponent back in May. Midfielder Wilde-Donald Guerrier (Alanya), central defender Jakub Rzezniczak (Legia) and goalkeeper Anton Kanibolotsky (Shakhtar Donetsk) are biggest name that reinforced the club this Summer.
Sheriff Tiraspol had much more difficult task than what they expected, as the team barely progressed Albanian champions from Kukesi only thanks to a away goal rule. First leg in Moldova ended as a narrow 1:0 victory for them thanks to a goal from penalty kick taken by Badibanga in quite a fast tempo game where Sheriff did dominated, however weren’t concrete as expected.
However, their second leg game was even more difficult, as the side found themselves 2:0 back in the scoreline after first halftime (Emini scored in 35th and Pejic in 45th), as the visiting side had more of the ball possession but weren’t attacking much, just used ball possession to prevet the opponent from creating chances. They reacted better in the second halftime and reduced the deficit in 56th minute via Bayala, however were very lucky to progress too since they played with a man less since 77th minute and the Albanian side also missed some good chances, including even a penalty missed ten minutes before the end.
Midfielder Jeremy de Nooijer (signed from Levski this Summer) won’t be playing due suspension. Additionally the team started domestic league with a victory over Zaria, but also two draws in most recent matches, away from home against Dacia Chisinau and at home against Zimbru Chisinau last weekend.
Sheriff really doesn’t look that well early in the season, in last four official matches they didn’t improve and didn’t convince me at all, while Qarabag seems to be on completely another level early in the season. I have no doubts that we have quality difference in favor of the home team this time and with the help of their fans they should achieve result that might be well worth of progressing to the next stage already.