Expedition Europa season two commences this Thursday as, for the first time, RB Leipzig welcome Swedish opposition to the Red Bull Arena in the UEFA Europa League second qualification round first leg.
Finishing 6th in the Bundesliga last season, a place in the Europa League group stage was almost assured for RB Leipzig, but their fate was in hands of those competing in the following weekend’s DFB-Pokal, unfortunately, Eintracht Frankfurt came out victors and condemned Leipzig to the misery that is a season that begins in July.
The first hurdle to overcome en route to the group stage is Häcken, who are much more prepared for this encounter than their opposition as their domestic campaign began in April, and have also partaken in European competition, having overcome Virslīga runners-up Liepāja in the previous round. Despite securing a 3-0 win on their trip to Latvia, they fell short in front of a home crowd, succumbing to a 2-1 defeat.
The host’s preparations for this fixture have been far from ideal. Beginning pre-season training just over a week ago, Leipzig have only been able to squeeze in two friendlies against lower league opposition, so the fitness levels is not the desired standard, which could cause them trouble against a much more prepared opponent. On a positive note, Häcken enter the game on the back of three consecutive defeats and currently sit 10th in the Allsvenskan with 18 points from 14 matches.
Date: Thursday, July 26, 2018
Kick-off: 18:30 (CEST)
Venue: Red Bull Arena
Referee: Aleksandar Stavrev (Macedonia)
1919 Grimma 0-7 (A) | Meuselwitz 2-2 (A)
Sundsvall 3-0 (H) | Liepāja 0-3 (A) | Norrköping 2-1 (A) | Liepāja 1-2 (H) | Djurgården 2-1 (A)
Injured: Dayot Upamecano (calf) | Marcel Halstenberg (anterior cruciate ligament) | Konrad Laimer (groin strain)
Absent: Emil Forsberg (recovering) | Timo Werner (recovering) | Yussuf Poulsen (recovering) |
Klostermann – Konaté – Orban – Saracchi
Mukiele – Demme – Kampl
Augustin – Cunha – Bruma
Andersson – Lindgren – Hammar – Arkivuo
Friberg – Irandust – Falsetas
Çelik – Jeremejeff – Paulinho
RB Leipzig 2-1 Häcken