Why Aberdeen are taking nothing for granted in Europe - and BK Hacken have not given up hope
The Swedish city of Gothenburg holds happy memories for Aberdeen, and they return there on Thursday night in fine fettle ahead of their Europa Conference League second qualifying round against BK Hacken.
Memories of 1983 will come flooding back for the Dons faithful – although none are permitted to travel this time due to UEFA’s Covid-19 protocols for away fans – when Aberdeen defeated Real Madrid 2-1 at the Ullevi to win the Cup Winners Cup under Sir Alex Ferguson. They have only been back once since, drawing 0-0 with IFK Gothenburg in the same stadium in 1986.
The class of 2021 will play just 8km from there at the newly-built Bravida Arena at 5.30pm GMT. They are likely to be celebrating at full time, leading 5-1 from the first leg after a blistering performance in front of 5,665 fans at Pittodrie. Barring a catastrophe, Stephen Glass' men will meet either Austria Vienna or Breidablik of Iceland – that tie is evenly poised at 1-1 after the first leg in Vienna – next week in the third qualifying round.
Not that manager Glass is taking anything for granted, nor will there be any room for sentiment. "The boys, they won't be complacent, they're well aware how good Hacken are," he said. "If (anything) it'll be a performance level on the night that gives us any issues. I don't foresee complacency being a problem at all, no."
Glass expects the Swedes to come out swinging, stung by the thumping they took at Pittodrie last Thursday
"That's the expectation," Glass responded when asked whether he anticipates an early onslaught. "I think it's up to them how they approach it, I would imagine that they don't see the tie as dead, based on what the manager said after the game.
"They'll be thinking if they can score a goal or two early that it's alive, so it's our task to make sure that we look after our business the same as we did in the first leg.
"We're very aware of their dangers, their threats, we're aware of situations that can open up for us to score some goals as well.
"I think if we do the right things at the right time we'll be OK but, like I said, it'll be performance level on the night and complacency or a lack of which will dictate the outcome of the tie."
Hacken have hauled themselves away from the Allsvenskan relegation zone since Per-Mathias Högmo took over as head coach earlier this summer and, as Glass predicted, the Norwegian manager is not giving up hope despite needing to overturn a four-goal deficit.
"We have all the opportunities on Thursday, definitely," said Högmo. "We saw in the away meeting that it was entirely possible to create good goal chances against Aberdeen. We have to move forward, develop our attacking game and get chances. Two goals in each half and we are in the race."
Glass will be without Dean Campbell for the match after he slipped in training and has left the midfielder at home in the hope that he will recover in time for Aberdeen's opening cinch Premiership match against Dundee United on Sunday.