FC Astana managed to take the domestic league title in the last round of previous Premier League as the side won 2:0 at home over FK Akzhayik to end up with a point more than second placed Kairat Almaty. They had a decent Euro season last year too.
The side secured the second position in Europa League being a point behind Spanish side Villarreal and with two more than Slavia Prague and six more than Maccabi Tel Aviv. It was for sure more than satifying performance from them, as the side ended up the competition with a knockout stage against Sporting Lisbon suffering 4:6 aggregate score defeat.
Astana is also heading very well towards a new title in 2018 season. The team currently stand at first position with six points more than second placed Kairat Almaty and having played two games more. They are in the best form with six matches undefeated run – last time having a goalless game away to Tobol last Thursday evening. The side had five victories prior to it having the best home record with eight victories and only one draw so far.
Especially due to their great home record I expect them to attack here from the off and not calculate more before their trip to Montenegro. Their biggest weapon is the fact that their players know each other well as the side doesn’t change the team a lot. Right back Antonio Rukavina was recently signed from Villarreal on a free transfer. Central midfielder Richard came from Qarabag, offensive players Martin Tomasov (from Rijeka) and Laszlo Kleinheisler came from Werder both being previously at the club on a loan deal.
Sutjeska deservedly took the champions title last season in Prva Crnogorska Liga as the side ended up with twenty-two points more than second placed Buducnost. Even so, it’s rare to find a team that lost five matches in the league and had seven draws but still ended up winning the title.
It is for sure one of the weakest leagues in Europe apart from really small UEFA nations as they really lack more quality sides especially since Buducnost which is most reputable and known Montenegrin club entered turbulend period.
As for the Cup competition, they suffered exclusion last Autumn in a 0:3 aggregate loss to Buducnost in quarter-finals. The side participated in last years in UEFA competition, without much success. They got eliminated by Sheriff Tiraspol (1:6 aggregate in 2013, 0:5 in 2014), Debrecen (0:5 aggregate in 2015) and with a 1:3 aggregate result against Levski Sofia last season.
Their roster is only decent for stardards of Champions League qualifiers, as the side doens’t actually have very experienced nor quality players. Goalkeeper Vladan Giljen has previous shorter spell in Portugal, being in Albanian club prior joining Sutjeska. Few players have international experience, most of them playing in neighbouring Serbian league too combined with some other not that reputable teams abroad. Central defender Milos Bakrac went to Zeljeznicar, while midfielder Branislav Jankovic gone to Romanian side Sepsi – both being important keys in last season’s performances.
~ FC Astana scored at least three goals in last four home matches.
These two teams can’t even be compared in my eyes. FC Astana is obviously a growing club year by year and no doubt that their real target for this season is to try to reach the Champions League group stage. Knowing that they perform much better in front of own fans both in international and domestic competitions, I see them attacking here from the first minute and getting a convincing victory that will almost settle their participation in the next round.