Hajduk fans are hoping to see the team that gave Zenit St. Petersburg a scare three weeks ago rather than the lackluster bunch that has worn the white jerseys as of late when Hajduk take on Greek side AEK today at Split’s Poljud stadium.
Hajduk sits at the bottom of UEFA Europa League Group G on three points, a single point behind RSC Anderlecht and AEK for the all important second spot.
Hajduk desperately need to avenge their 3-1 loss to AEK in the Group’s opening round, as anything short of the full three points will almost certainly end the “bijeli’s” hopes of advancing to the tournament’s knockout stage.
While a win is certainly attainable, especially given the club’s positive start in the Athens opener, Hajduk’s poor recent form has forced fans to temper their enthusiasm. Hajduk is coming off a less-than-convincing 2-1 win over 11th-place Osijek, the win coming courtesy of an 86th minute Osijek own goal.
AEK arrives in Split
Hajduk is 3-1 in prva liga play under interim head coach Goran Vučević, yet that record is somewhat misleading — all four games have been against teams in the league’s bottom third, including a 2-0 loss to 15th-place NK Istra 1961.
“It will be difficult to play at the top level – the pitch and weather conditions won’t really suit either us or them. I think hunger for victory, passion and desire will be decisive, rather than good football. Our build-up has been calm, there’s no euphoria, but don’t doubt that the crowd will be our 12th player. We have some individuals who can make a difference and can be decisive, but I think it will be more a case of whoever makes fewer mistakes. There will be some changes in our team, but but I’m not saying who. I am optimistic because Zenit and Anderlecht are perceived as better teams than AEK.”
~Hajduk manager, Goran Vučević
Still, with a game against Group leaders Zenit on the horizon, AEK can ill afford the luxury of playing for a draw. Zenit thrashed the Greek side 4-2 in the teams’ first meeting.
Hajduk (4-4-2): Radošević, Maloča, Buljat, Vejić, Jozinović, Strinić, Ibričić, Ljubičić, Oremuš, Anas i Vukušić
AEK (4-2-3-1): Arabatzis, Jahić, Dellas, Manolas, Lagos, Makos, Diop, Scocco, Leonardo, Eder i Blanco