Birkirkara will be all out to score the goal or goals for a positive result which would enable to reach the third qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League as they take on Heart of Midlothian at the Tynecastle Stadium in Edinburgh, kick-off at 21:00.
Following an impressive 1-1 draw away from home and a comfortable 2-0 win over NK Široki Brijeg at the Hibs Stadium in the first qualifying round, the Stripes held on to a goalless draw with Hearts in the first leg of the second qualifying round last week. A result which means that even a draw with goals would be enough for Drazen Besek’s side to reach the third round where they would be facing Russian side FC Krasnodar.
It will definitely be no easy task as Hearts created the better chances during the first leg and were unlucky not to take the lead through Turkish defender Alim Öztürk who also hit the crossbar.
After skipping the first leg due to an injury, the Birkirkara coach may have back at his disposal defender Predrag Jovic. However Besek is not expected to make much changes with the only other possible change being the inclusion of striker Dejan Djordjevic who was included as a substitute in the first leg.
Speaking to heartsfc.co.uk, Hearts coach Robbie Neilson insisted patience will be key on Thursday night.
“It may take some time to break them down. The key is to move the ball quickly, be positive and aggressive as they’ll look to sit in. It could take five minutes or 80 minutes to get the goal, but we’re very hopeful of getting the win and progressing.”
Heart of Midlothian reached the quarter-finals of the 1988/89 UEFA Cup, narrowly losing out to Bayern Munich 2–1 on aggregate. Their best run in recent years was reaching the group stage of the UEFA Europa League in 2004/05. In 2012, they took part in the fourth round of the UEFA Europa League but were eliminated with a 1-2 aggregate score by Liverpool.