Ash Taylor warns Aberdeen to focus on Viking Stavanger – not Sporting Lisbon

Defender says Norwegians will be equally motivated by prospect of plumb tie

Saturday, 12th September 2020, 10:30 pm
Aberdeen set up the trip to Norway by beating Runavik last month. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

The problem with prospective plumb ties is that the result can be too many fingers in too many pies.

It is tempting, and understandable, for Aberdeen to be excited at the opportunity to confront one of Portugal’s heavyweights in Sporting in the Europa League qualifiers. Yet, this overlooks the far-from-little matter of a trip to Norway to face Viking Stavanger in Thursday’s second round qualifying tie.

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Stavanger aren’t having the best season in lying tenth in their domestic set-up, with the first half of the campaign yielding only five league wins. They play on plastic, though, which is an added complication for an away knock-out tie. Aberdeen defender Ash Taylor also believes that the carrot for the winners won’t just energise Derek McInnes’ side.

“The prospect of playing Sporting Lisbon in the next round is mouthwatering and a huge motivator but it will be the same for them so we’ll have to make sure we do our jobs,” said Taylor. “It’s something to look forward to if we can get through.

“You want to pit yourself against the European big boys and they are certainly one of them with their history. You want to play against those good players, so it’s something that we are looking forward to and first and foremost we need to win this tie and do our job.

“As players you have just got to look at the next game and focus on that because if you take your eye off it that’s where you can get caught out.”

It is not curious that Taylor speculates home club Viking could just edge it to outsiders assessing which of the teams would be favourites. It is curious that he puts that down to the absence of a certain support at the behind-closed-doors game.

“There will be slight advantages for them being at home in their environment with no fans. I know the Aberdeen fans like to travel, especially for European games. It’s a bit of a toss of a coin for who is favourites because you can never call these European ties.

“You just have to play the game in front of you and put in a performance that gets you through, especially when it’s a one-off.”

The wait for Pittodrie to host European group stage football now stretches 12 years. Aberdeen have been able to negotiate a few rounds, typically, before falling before the play-off phase.

There is at least one respect in which this pandemic-reshaped season should be better for this long-running quest, Taylor accepts.

“It has helped playing the ties a little bit later,” said the defender, Aberdeen yesterday posting a fifth straight victory.

“We’ve got a few games under our belt now, where it used to just be the pre-season. It was fast forwarding and you were in a European tie straightaway and a bit undercooked but I am sure the lads are well prepared for it now and we are getting into our stride, which should be good for us.”

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