Defender Graeme Shinnie believes Derek McInnes’ summer signings have made Aberdeen stronger this season as they aim to make progress in the Europa League.
The former Caley Thistle left- back is determined to help the Pittodrie side make the group stages of the competition for the first time in nine years, and believes they can see off Fola Esch today.
Aberdeen have a 3-1 lead to take to Luxembourg after Niall McGinn – who hasn’t travelled with the squad – and Adam Rooney, from the penalty spot, both struck in injury time to add to Shay Logan’s opener.
Shinnie enjoyed a superb opening season with Aberdeen last term, but they were agonisingly frustrated in Europe after losing to Kairat Almaty in the third qualifying round, following an excellent win against Rijeka, of Croatia.
McInnes has earmarked reaching the group stages as one of their main targets this season and Shinnie is convinced the manager has assembled an even stronger squad for this season’s challenge.
Shinnie said: “We’re definitely stronger. The signings we have made have strengthened us massively. It’s just a case of getting to know each other.
“It was nice to get a couple of late goals at Pittodrie and we could have got a couple more, but the result we have brought here means we now go to finish the job.
“I’d expect we’ll improve from the first leg. It’s still relatively early in pre-season, to be fair.
“We’ve had a couple of games which we’ve won, so it’s a case of getting sharper with matches and into the groove. As it goes on, everyone will be getting that bit extra. You feel yourself getting sharper playing more games.
“Although we had a short break where you don’t lose too much, you still need to get back into it. This is another game to get going again.
“It’s always tough in Europe. I found that out myself last year, but, in a competition like this, you cannot look too far ahead and just towards your next game. We can’t look beyond Fola Esch, but try to be professional and get the job done.
“Last year was my first experience of it and it’s still great to go to new places. I’ve never played here before, for example, so it’s still an adventure which you want to look back on one day with happy memories. The only way we can do that is by going through.”
Shinnie expects Aberdeento kill the tie early by scoring. He said: “If you look at the first leg, we could have scored five or six. For us, we always think we will score.
“I feel in every away game we would score and, although we don’t have to score, we’re a team that looks to do so. We want to put them under pressure and force them into making mistakes. They are going to leave gaps as they will have to chase the game at some point and, given how successful we were in attacking them last week, we can go into this game with confidence and create more chances.”
Meanwhile, McInnes believes playing away from home against a side who need to score at least two goals will suit his men at Luxembourg’s Stade Josy Barthel.
He said: “While we’ve got an advantage, no one is thinking we are home and dry. To get through in Europe, you need two decent performances and we’ve done one. I don’t think we need to score, although I always feel there are goals in us.
“Fola will need to show a different approach to the game, whether it’s at the start of the game or at some point after the game starts.
“They know they have to commit more bodies forward, but they were a good side and you can see they are well managed and coached and deserve every respect.
“If they get any encouragement, they could gain confidence and we don’t want to give them that.”