Our football match prediction:
After failing to make it to the Champions League group stages, Rijeka will be looking to kick off their Europa League campaign in style when they host AEK Athens at their Stadion HNK Rijeka. The Croatian champions are a real force to be reckoned with at home, but Thursday’s football match against AEK will be anything but a walk in the park for the hosts. Matjaz Kek is still in charge of Rijeka, but the Slovenian tactician is under big pressure ahead of the Europa League opener. AEK Athens rolled over Club Brugge in the play-off round, but they would be happy with one point from Thursday’s clash against Rijeka. A man to watch in the home team will be Mario Gavranovic, whilst Rijeka defenders should have Andre Simoes, who scored a brace in a 3-0 win over Club Brugge, at bay. Taking everything into account, share of spoils appears on the horizon.
Highlighted Player (Dario Zuparic):
Dario Zuparic is a Croatian footballer, who plays for Pescara as a defender. Zuparic played for the likes of Sladograna Zupanja, NK Granicar Zupanja and Cibalia during his youth career. He continued playing for Cibalia at senior level and he made 57 league appearances for the Croatian outfit from 2011 to 2013. In 2013 he signed a contract with Pescara and made 21 appearances for the team in the 2013/2014 Serie B campaign. Zuparic quickly established himself as a first-team regular at Pescara and it has to be noted that he played 36 games for the Delfini in the 2015/2016 season. The Pescara highly rated defender was born in Croatia, but he started playing for Bosnia and Herzegovina. He has 3 caps for Bosnian and Herzegovina U19 team, but he eventually decided to represent Croatia on the international stage. Zuparic has 5 caps for Croatia U20 and he played three matches for Croatia U21. The 188-cm-tall footballer was born on 3 May, 1992 in Zupanja.
Highlighted Team (AEK Athens):
Established in 1924, AEK Athens are one of a number of Greek clubs based in Athens. The Enosis (Union) are well known for their passionate fans and Original 21 are considered the club’s main supporters’ group. AEK Athens play their home games in black shirts with yellow stripes and black shorts, while they often wear gray jerseys and yellow shorts when facing their rivals on the road. Olympic Stadium in Athens is the club’s home ground and the venue can hold up to 69.618 people. AEK share rivalries with fellow capital clubs Panathinaikos and Olympiakos and the rivalry with Olympiakos was inflamed in 1996, when AEK former ace and then-coach joined the Thrylos. AEK have 11 Greek Super League trophies, but it has to be noted that they clinched their last domestic title back in 1994. Speaking of the Greek Cup, the Enosis won their 15th trophy in the competition in 2016, with the team beating Olympiakos in the title game. In the 1966/1967 season AEK made it to the UEFA Cup semis, but Italian giants Juventus proved to be a big catch for the Greek side.