DAVID SMITH - Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Bryan Gerzicich and Terrence Boyd will both help their respective teams try to use their first leg advantage to advance to the final round of Europa League qualification on Thursday.
Hapoel Tel Aviv - Pandurii Targu Jiu (agg. 1-1)
Bryan Gerzicich and Hapoel Tel Aviv have a slight upper leg when they host Romanian team Pandurii on Thursday night, and will hope that their away goal one week before will aid in their quest to reach the group stage.
The Israeli team fought back from a fourth-minute deficit to earn an important road draw in last week's first leg thanks to the heroics of Brazilian forward Sasha.
The 1-1 road draw puts them at a slight advantage in Romania, as all the pressure is now on the visitors to score, which could leave ample openings to wrap up the aggregate win early in the game.
Gerzicich has been a fixture as the anchor of Hapoel's midfield, and will line up in the center of the park again on Thursday.
If the visitors have anything going in their favor, it is that they have already played three games of the domestic season, the most recent being a 2-1 weekend win over Otelul Galati.
Hapoel are not reporting any missing players, while Pandurii will be missing midfielders Nicandro Breeveld and Erico da Silva along with forward Valentin Lemnaru all due to injury.
Rapid Vienna - Asteras Tripolis (agg. 1-1)
A scoreless draw will be enough to see Terrence Boyd and Rapid Vienna through to the playoff round, however they will be confident of taking a win against visiting Greek team Asteras Tripolis on Thursday.
Boyd was the difference maker for Rapid in last week's away leg, netting the spot kick which earned them the 1-1 draw in Greece.
Their opponents are still more than a week away from the start of their domestic season, which be a strong advantage for the current third-place Austrian team.
They are coming off a commanding 4-2 road win over Sturm Graz during the weekend, and have yet to taste defeat in the new season.
Neither team is reporting any absences.
Charlie Davies could be in uniform and is still awaiting his first appearance of the season for Randers, which could come on Thursday when they try to overturn their 2-1 deficit at Rubin Kazan.