Our prediction for this Champions League match:
A place in the Champions League third qualifying round will be at stake when Maribor and AIK face each other in the highly-anticipated double-header. The Purples faced no difficulties in the two-legged tie against Iceland champions Valur, but the tie against the Allsvenskan title holders will be anything but a walk in the park for the Slovenians. Experienced attacker Tavares, who is not getting any older, will be the man to watch in the home team.
The 35-year-old Brazilian opened his goal-scoring account in the 2-0 win over Valur. AIK did well to overcome a one-goal deficit in Wednesday’s clash against Ararat, with key player Henok Goitom scoring a brace for the Swedes. However, beating Maribor at Ljudski vrt is easier said than done, therefore, we believe that there is a big value in betting on draw. It has to be noted that the two teams meet for the first time ever in European competitions.
Highlighted Player (Luka Zahovic):
Luka Zahovic is the son of legendary Slovenian footballer Zlatko Zahovic. Luka Zahovic played for the likes of Valencia, Benfica and Pobrezje during his youth career before joining Maribor in 2009. The talented attacker, who was born in Guimaraes, Portugal on November 15, 1995, scored 13 goals in 45 appearances for Slovenian side in the national championship and in 2015 he moved to Netherlands, signing a three-year-old deal with Heerenveen.
In August, 2016, he returned to Maribor, signing a loan deal with his boyhood club and in May, 2017 he signed a permanent deal with the Violets. Speaking of his international career, Luka Zahovic represented Slovenia U17 at the 2012 European Championship and it has to be noted that he found the net in a 3-1 defeat to Netherlands.
Unlike his father, Luka’s preferred foot is right. His main position is centre-forward, but he is used as a secondary striker as well. Luka Zahovic has a deal with Maribor which should expire on May 31, 2020.
Highlighted Team (Maribor):
Founded in December 1960, Maribor are the most successful Slovenian club. The Violets won their 14th SNL trophy in 2017, with the team finishing the season 13 points clear of second-placed Gorica. Maribor are the only Slovenian club which made it to the UEFA Champions League group stages (2013/2014), but the likes of Chelsea, Schalke and Sporting Lisbon proved to be a big catch for the Slovenian champions.
The Violets collected only three points from possible 18 in the process and four years later they repeated the success, with the team eliminating Hapoel Be’er Sheva in the Champions League play-offs. Maribor will face the likes of Spartak Moscow, Sevilla and Liverpool in Group E. Speaking of the club’s main rivals, there have always been fireworks in clashes between Maribor and Olimpija Ljubljana.
The two teams face each other in the “Eternal derby” (Vecni derbi) and they represent the two biggest cities in Slovenia. Maribor are well known for their violet for their violet shirts with yellow stripes. Ljudski vrt is the club’s home ground.