Häcken vs Leipzig – Thursday 2 August, 17:30BST/18:30CEST – Bravida Arena, Gothenburg, Sweden.
The second leg is almost a formality, it will take an almighty collapse by the Lower Saxony side for Häcken vs Leipzig to become the biggest shock of the Europa League qualification stage so far.
Swedish hosts, BK Häcken, had a nightmare first leg at the Red Bull Arena last week. While their German opponents are barely back into preseason training, the Wasps are currently midway through their domestic campaign, not that it showed. Had Paulinho not spurned a glorious chance inside the first 10 minutes then a little pressure may have been asserted upon die Roten Bullen – as it was, come full time, Häcken found themselves on the wrong end of a four-nil scoreline.
Preparations for the Europa League tie will not have been helped by a draw on the weekend with Örebro. Allowing a lead to slip after just 13 minutes saw Häcken drop to 10th place. Should they wish to regain any sort of domestic form their European exploits could best be disregarded. As it stands the result from leg one all but guarantees this eventuality.
It was as good a start to life back in the Leipzig dugout as Ralf Rangnick could have wished for. After an absence of 14 months, the once Sporting Director is again performing the duties of tactician and leader.
European competition is a big step up from Bundesliga 2, but Rangnick will be pleased that his first foray back into coaching didn’t end up as an embarrassment – in fact, it was the opposite.
A four-goal lead safely achieved thanks to players secured by the stop-gap coach whilst still in a management role. Matheus Cunha scored on his debut, while the other three goals came via Bruma, Kevin Kampl and Jean-Kévin Augustin. Any concerns over match sharpness were quickly discarded.
Leipzig also welcome back Yussuf Poulsen and Emil Forsberg after their extended break due to World Cup action. While Poulsen may only make the bench, Forsberg is expected to make the starting lineup as die Roten Bullen play their first competitive match on Swedish soil.
Häcken vs Leipzig – Players to look out for:
Paulinho #10 – Häcken
Once again it will be the 32-year-old Brazilian forward who Häcken will look towards for goals to power any sort of resurgence – or salvaging of pride.
With 11 goals in 17 games the Brazilian and Swedish national certainly knows how to find the net. However, in Leipzig he will face a sterner defensive test than normal. Should their German visitors be suffering from any type of preseason hangover his driving runs, coupled with a strong right foot finish, could spell trouble.
Emil Forsberg #10 – Leipzig
Back from holiday and possibly straight back into action – at least the winger will be on familiar ground should he find himself thrown into the mix. As a player for both Mälmo and Sundsvall, Häcken is a club that Forsberg knows well.
Linked with a move to Roma during the summer break, the 26-year-old will want to show his commitment to Leipzig as quickly as possible. With six appearances in last season’s competition it is a surprise that Forsberg is still searching for his first goal. Judging by last week’s matchup it could be on home soil that he breaks his Europa League duck.
Häcken vs Leipzig – Match Stats
- The winners of this fixture will face Craiova in the third qualifying round.
- Leipzig reached the quarter-final of last season’s Europa League.
- Emil Forsberg has faced Häcken seven times before – scoring four goals and assisting one more whilst a player at Mälmo and Sundsvall.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Häcken vs Leipzig – 1:3
Häcken vs Leipzig – Lineups
Abrahamsson – Andersson, Lindgren, Hammar, Arkivuo – Friberg, Faltsetas – Celik, Mohammed, Paulinho – Kamara
Head Coach: Andreas Alm
Gulacsi – Mukiele, Orban, Konate, Saracchi – Ilsanker, Demme – Augustin, Kampl, Forsberg – Cunha
Head Coach: Ralf Rangnick
Chris Williams is a freelance European football journalist. Primarily covering the Bundesliga, Premier League and both of UEFA’s European club competitions. Published in both local and international publications, he also contributes to television and radio across the globe. A member of the UK’s Sports Journalist Association and the International Sports Press Association (AIPS). Follow Chris Williams on Twitter @Chris78Williams