Hajduk Split play host to Vitoria de Guimaraes in the first leg of their Europa Conference League third qualifying round tie on Thursday.
The Croatian side qualified directly for this stage having finished second in their domestic league last season, while Vitoria Guimaraes defeated Puskas Akademia in the previous round.
As a matter of fact, Hajduk Split’s second-placed position represented the club’s best league finish since the 2011-12 campaign.
Croatian top flight has effectively been a one team league for several years now, with Dinamo Zagreb winning 16 of the last 17 top tier titles.
Consequently, most teams are often playing for second place, making Hajduk Split’s achievement last season impressive, even if it is a slightly depressing reality for a club which reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League as recently as 1995.
Valdas Dambrauskas is tasked with taking the club beyond the qualifying stages of European competition for the first time since the 2010-11 Europa League campaign, with Guimaraes representing a tricky opponent to overcome.
In fact, Vitoria Guaimaraes are considerably more used to competing in big European matches in recent times, having reached the group stage of the Europa League three times in the past nine seasons.
Since earning a promotion in the 2006-07 campaign, they have considerably gotten ahead, never finishing below 10th place in Portugal’s top flight.
However, Guimaraes have lost their top goalscorer from the past two seasons after Oscar Estupinan departed for Championship side Hull City, with head coach Pepa aslo exiting after receiving a big-money offer from Saudi Arabian side Al-Tai.
However, the Conquerors, who finished sixth in the Primeira Liga last season, dealt with these setbacks impressively to brush aside Hungarian side Puskas Akademia 3-0 across two legs, but they will undoubtedly face a much bigger challenge on Thursday when they travel to Croatia.
Hajduk Split vs Vitoria de Guimaraes head to head
The two teams have not previously met in any competition and this will be their first meeting in the first leg of their Europa Conference League third qualifying round tie.
Hajduk Split latest home form
Hajduk Split have recently failed to keep a good run of form at home, having won just one of their five most recent matches. They drew 1-1 with Kisvarda in their last home game in a friendly. In their last five matches, they have scored seven goals and conceded 10.
Hajduk Split 3-3 Shaktar Donetsk 01/05/22
Hajduk Split 3-1 Istra 1961 14/05/22
Hajduk Split 0-2 CFR Cluj 25/05/22
Hajduk Split 0-3 Gent 01/07/22
Hajduk Split 1-1 Kisvarda 02/07/22
Hajduk Split latest away form
Hajduk Split have recently been on a relatively good run of form on the road, having lost just one of their five most recent matches. They defeated Varazdin 2-0 in their last away game in the league. In their last five matches, they have scored nine goals and conceded three.
Rijeka 1-3 Hajduk Split 26/05/22
Hamburg 2-2 Hajduk Split 29/06/22
Dinamo Zagreb (P)0-0 Hajduk Split 09/07/22
Istra 1961 0-2 Hajduk Split 17/07/22
Varazdin 0-2 Hajduk Split 30/07/22
Vitoria de Guimaraes latest home form
Vitoria Guimaraes have recently been on a good run of form at home, having been unbeaten in their five most recent matches. They defeated Puskas 3-0 in their last home game in the Europa Conference League. In their last five matches, they have scored 14 goals and conceded just two.
Vitoria Guimaraes 4-0 Pacos Ferreira 15/04/22
Vitoria Guimaraes 1-1 Santa Clara 01/05/22
Vitoria Guimaraes 5-0 Gil Vicente 15/05/22
Vitoria Guimaraes 1-0 Torreense 13/07/22
Vitoria Guimaraes 3-0 Puskas 21/07/22
Vitoria de Guimaraes latest away form
Vitoria Guimaraes have recently been on a relatively good run of form on the road, having lost just one of their six most recent matches. They drew 0-0 with Puskas in their last away game in the Europa Conference League. In their last five matches, they have scored four goals and conceded four.
Morereinse 0-1 Vitoria Guimaraes 03/04/22
Tondela 1-1 Vitoria Guimaraes 24/04/22
Boavista 1-1 Vitoria Guimaraes 06/05/22
Porto 2-1 Vitoria Guimaraes 16/07/22
Puskas 0-0 Vitoria Guimaraes 28/07/22
Hajduk Split news
Hajduk Split will come into Thursday’s contest not having any injury concerns facing them as they look to claim a first-leg advantage ahead of the returm match.
Dambrauskas is likely to go with the same starting XI who earned his side a 2-0 victory over NK Istra 1961 at the weekend.
Vitoria de Guimaraes news
Vitoria Guimaraes are unlikely to have Tomas Handel available for this contest as the midfielder is currently sidelined due to a muscle strain.
It would be a surprise if any changes are made from the starting lineup which got the job done against Puskas Akademia in Hungary last week.
Prediction and Odds
We are expecting Hajduk Split to use Vitoria de Guimaraes last of organisation on and off the pitch to their benefit by securing a crucial first-leg advantage.
However, it is another matter whether it will prove enough to see them progress to the next round, but it would be something to protect next week.
Odds: 1 2.20 X 2.05 2 2.24
Hajduk Split 1-0 Vitoria Guimaraes
Hajduk Split 2-1 Vitoria Guimaraes
Hajduk Split 0-0 Vitoria Guimaraes
Hajduk Split 1-1 Vitoria Guimaraes
Hajduk Split 1-2 Vitoria Guimaraes