Gabala vs Saint-Etienne Europa League Preview

Gabala vs Saint-Etienne Europa League Preview

Gabala vs Saint-Etienne will take place on Thursday at the Bakcell Arena in Baku. Before the group stage kicked off, Futbolgrad predicted a difficult Europa League season for Gabala with the club finishing third.

With three matches in the book so far, Gabala are last with zero points. The Azeri lost 3-1 on matchday 1 to RSC Anderlecht, 2-3 against FSV Mainz 04 on matchday 2, and then finally lost 1-0 to Saint-Etienne on matchday 3. The last two defeats, especially, have been disappointing: They had Mainz on the brink of a defeat on matchday 2, but after taking the 2-1 lead completely collapsed, and then on matchday 3, they held Saint-Etienne to a draw until a Ricardinho own goal in the 70th minute.

While they are still pointless, the Azeri demonstrated that they can compete on this level. Indeed, Gabala have, as a club, grown steadily since they were established in 2005. After finishing the last three seasons third in the Azerbaijan Premier League, they are now first in the league, two points ahead of current champions Qarabag—Gabala defeated Neftchi Baku 4-1 on the weekend, and looks in excellent form.

It has been a somewhat meteoric rise for a club that has only been in existence for 11 years, and the only thing missing from the Gabala story, at this point, is a first victory at the group stage of the Europa League.

The match against Mainz, in particular, should give Gabala some hope when Saint-Etienne visits on Thursday. Saint-Etienne will have to travel 3,500 km, and with the added edge of being rested before facing a travel-weary French side might very well be enough to secure Gabala their first three points in the competition.

Indeed, it will be do or die for the Azerbaijan-based club, as a defeat would eliminate them from the competition. With everything on the line, the match between Gabala and Saint-Etienne should be an intriguing game for both fans and neutral observers.

Futbolgrad’s Prediction: Gabala vs Saint-Etienne 2-1

Possible Line-ups


Formation: 4-2-3-1

Bezotosny – Ricardinho, Rafael, Stankovic, Mirzabekov – Kvekveskiri, Vernydub – Dabo, Ozobić, Zenjov – Gorbanov

Manager: Roman Hrygorchuk

AS St-Etienne:

Formation: 4-3-3

Ruffier – M’Bengue, Lacroix, Perrin, Malcuit – Saivet, Selnaes, Veretout – Monnet-Paquet, Berić, Tannane

Manager: Christophe Galtier

By Manuel Veth –