When FC Zurich hosts Qarabag FK at Stadion Letzigrund on Wednesday for the second leg of their Champions League qualifying match, they will be attempting to overcome a one-goal deficit.
The third qualifying round will include either Ferencvaros or Slovan Bratislava; at this point, the Azerbaijani visitors are up 3-2 from the first leg.
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When Zurich fell to Qarabag in a five-goal thriller last week, it was their third loss in a row in all competitions.
Kady and Ibrahima Wadji’s goals put FCZ down 2-0 at halftime but Lindrit Kamberi pulled one back in the 65th minute. Qarabag, however, soon restored their two-goal lead after their kickoff by going up the opposite end and scoring again through Wadji.
When Mirlind Kryeziu converted from the penalty spot with five minutes remaining, Franco Foda’s team managed to keep the match alive and give the Swiss team a chance to advance to the Champions League group stage for the first time since the 2009–10 season.
After that, in their second Swiss Super League match of the new season, Zurich answered with a scoreless draw against Luzern at home. While a draw may not have been the best outcome for the defending champions of the top tier, Foda’s team kept a clean sheet after giving up 10 goals in their previous three games across all competitions, including a 4-0 loss to Young Boys in their league debut.
Zurich will be looking to change their fortunes at home, where they have excelled over the past year, losing just two of their last 23 games in all competitions at Stadion Letzigrund.
Qarabag now lead Zurich by one goal as they try to advance to the Champions League group stage for the first time since 2017–18 after defeating Lech Poznan 5-2 on aggregate in the previous round.
Aside from giving up a late penalty, Gurban Gurbanov’s team played well in the first leg, and the Horsemen are aware that obtaining at least a draw on Wednesday will be sufficient to advance them to the next round.
If they lost the two-legged match, they would advance to the third qualifying round of the Europa League. Zurich would do the same if they lost the match on aggregate.
Qarabag, who advanced to the Europa Conference League knockout rounds last year, has yet to start defending their top-flight championship. As a result, they are entirely focused on defeating Zurich and moving on to the next round.
Last week, both teams created difficulties for one another in the last third, and more goalmouth action is anticipated in the return leg.
On Wednesday, though, we see Qarabag resisting their rivals and compelling them to split the spoils, which would be sufficient for the visitors to advance to the next round on aggregate.