Our prediction for this Europa Conference League match:
Astana and Ballkani face each other at Astana Arena in the opening match of Thursday’s program. The Kazakhs did well to beat the Kosovars at Stadiumi Fadil Vokrri and a win in the round 4 could see them climb to top two in Group C. As Grigori Babayan has a full squad to choose from, home win should definitely be considered.
The visitors, on the other hand, are hungry for revenge, but seeing that Astana have turned their stadium into a real fortress, we predict that the visitors are going to return home empty-handed. Even though midfielder Vesel Limaj has overcome his injury, we are tempted to put our money on the hosts, who showcased their worth in their last group game. Fellow midfielder Lindon Emerllahu remains on the sidelines with injury, but he should be the only absentee in the visiting team.
Highlighted Team (Astana):
Astana are a Kazakh football club which was founded in 2009. The Blue and Yellows won their first domestic trophy in 2014, with the team finishing the regular part of the season in third place in the standings. However, thanks to their brilliant displays in the Championship round Astana won the national championship.
The big-spending Kazakh club have always been attracting high-profile footballers from Russia and Ukraine and it has to be noted that the likes of Yegor Titov, Andrey Tikhonov and Maksim Shatshikh played for the Blue and Yellows in the past. Nowadays Astana are considered the best football club in Kazakhstan and you should bear in mind that they won their third consecutive league title in 2016.
However, participating in the 2015/2016 Champions League group stages is considered the club’s biggest success. Astana faced the likes of Benfica, Atletico Madrid and Galatasaray in Group C and they collected 4 points from possible 18 in the process. It has to be noted that they shared the spoils with Diego Simeone’s men at their Astana Arena.