Aberdeen v Ventspils: Latvians deserve respect, says Derek McInnes

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes
McInnes is looking for a much improved display from his Aberdeen players
Aberdeen v Ventspils, Europa League qualifying, second round, first leg
Venue: Pittodrie Stadium Date: 14 July Kick-off: 19:45
Coverage: Live text on BBC Sport website, updates on BBC Radio Scotland

Manager Derek McInnes is warning that Ventspils will provide Aberdeen with much tougher opposition than their last brush with a side from Latvia.

The Dons swept past Dauguva Riga 8-0 on aggregate two years ago.

But, 13 games into their domestic campaign, Ventspils can boast a much better pedigree.

"Ventspils deserve loads of respect, they are way ahead of what Dauguva Riga were," said McInnes ahead of Thursday's Europa League qualifier.

"They are certainly a capable side, with good experience.

"They have a several Latvian internationals, they have Girts Karlsons up front. He has more than 50 caps and is sitting on 10 goals for the last 12 matches.

"They get the ball forward and get crosses into the box. They are team used to winning, so I think there's no comparison to the last Latvian opposition we had."

Ventspils, coached by former Peterborough assistant Paul Ashworth, sit third in the Virsliga table and progressed with a 4-0 aggregate win over Vikingur from the Faroe Islands.

'Find the right balance'

Aberdeen made heavy weather of getting past Luxembourg part-timers Fola Esch, edging through by a goal after losing the away leg 1-0.

"We managed to get the job done but we know we put the tie at risk," said McInnes.

"We will use it as a reference but it's important we don't dwell on it."

Aberdeen left it late in the first leg against Fola Esch, scoring twice in stoppage-time for a 3-1 victory after missing several good chances.

The Dons dominated possession for long spells in that game but did leave gaps at the back and McInnes is wary of being punished by a superior side.

"We need the right balance all over the pitch, the blend between attack and defence is vital," he said.

"While we will be going all out to win the match, it's important we don't throw everything at it, we need to keep a level of discipline because the level of team we're playing are good enough to punish any lack of organisation.

"If we can get to the levels we are capable of quickly, then we'll give ourselves a chance to progress."

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