Aberdeen boss McInnes expects 'tough and close' tie with Apollon Limassol

Aberdeen celebrate
Aberdeen warmed up for Thursday's match by beating Brechin City 4-1 in Sunday's friendly
Europa League qualifying
Venue: Pittodrie Date: Thursday, 26 July Kick-off: 19:45 BST
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio Scotland 810MW/DAB/online; updates on BBC Sport website

Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes expects "fine margins" to decide his side's Europa League third qualifying round tie with Apollon Limassol.

The Cypriot side travel to face the Dons in Thursday's first leg.

McInnes' men have lost at the third qualifying round stage of the competition in the past three seasons.

"Hopefully, with the experience we've had of previous ties at this stage, we can find a way just to get the job done," he said.

"I was bitterly disappointed at each and every one of [the third qualifying round defeats in 2014, 2015 and 2016].

"I expect it to be a tough and close tie and it will be fine margins."

The Pittodrie side beat Siroki Brijeg of Bosnia-Herzegovina 3-1 on aggregate in the previous round, having drawn the first leg at home 1-1.

Apollon won both legs of their tie against Moldova's Zaria Balti to complete a 5-1 aggregate victory.

Derek McInnes: 'We're so eager to get through into that last play-off spot'

And McInnes considers Thursday's opponents to be "another notch up".

"They are a good side and you expect, as you go through the rounds in any competition, to be facing a higher level of opponent and that's what we've got," he said.

"At this stage of the competition, we've played some very good sides - Real Sociedad, Maribor, Almaty - and Apollon Limassol are a very good side.

"They've got a good pedigree and have qualified for the group stage a couple of times in recent years and they've got a very experienced and a very capable team.

"So we've got a job on our hands to get through the tie, but we wouldn't expect any different and it's our intention to make sure they've got a job to get through as well.

"There were a lot of bigger and more recognisable names [in the draw], but when you dig a bit deeper you see they are a team that's got enough quality to give us problems."

The Dons boss also stressed the importance of performing in both legs of the tie.

"Some people look into the home tie too much," he explained. "I have always said to get through any tie in Europe, you have to put in two decent performances.

"We've had some big performances on the road, but we've only lost one at home and that was against Sociedad [in 2014] when we chased the game.

"So I don't think you always necessarily have to win your home game. It is important you don't lose the tie. But, of course, we want to try to take any advantage over to Cyprus next week.

"We are comfortable on the road and we want to make sure we make full use of it being a sell-out tomorrow night.

"They were very comfortable [against Zaria Balti]. They were 3-0 up very early on in the first tie and the only surprise was they didn't add to that.

"The game was a little bit closer in Moldova, but the job was done and they were very comfortable."

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