Sochi hosts Keshla in the first leg of the Europa Conference League qualification quarterfinals. The match will be played on Thursday, July 22nd at Fisht Olympic Stadium (Sochi)
For the first time in history, PFC Sochi will take part in the European Cup tournaments. The White-Blues got into the 2nd round of the Conference League qualification, finishing 5th in the last season of the RPL. In the offseason, a group of experienced players left the club for the free agent market (defenders Mikha Mevlya, Ivan Novoseltsev, and Elmir Nabiullin, midfielder Alexei Pomerko, and forward Anton Zabolotny. For this reason, the club has focused on finding replacements for these players. Within a few weeks, Sochi signed midfielder Victorien Angban, as well as defenders Mateo Barac and Rodrigao. Beyond that, the club extended the loan agreements with defenders Emmanuel Mammana and Danila Prokhin and signed a full-fledged contract with defender Sergei Terekhov, who was loaned from Orenburg last season.
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Keshla unsuccessfully performed in the Azerbaijani championship, finishing only 6th among eight participants. But the team won the National Cup for the second time in history, thanks to which it got into the second round of the Conference League qualifiers. Keshla will be participating in European competitions for the 11th time. The Reds have got through the 2nd qualifying round only once in their history. In the 2015/16 season, the team that was called "Inter Baku" reached the 3rd round in the UEL qualification, where they were eliminated by Athletic Bilbao (0-2 and 0-0). In the offseason, Keshla lost several key players. Forward Cesar Meza Koli moved to Neftci, midfielder Vusal Iskenderli left for Turkish club Ankara Keciorengucu, and forward Silvio entered the free agent market. Instead, Keshla signed seven footballers. The team was joined by defenders Rafael Maharramli and Karim Diniyev, midfielder Merab Gigauri, wingers Aldair Neto, Umar Gudiabi, and Felipe Santos, and striker Amil Yunanov.
Sochi and Keshla will meet for the first time in history. The favorite of the confrontation is the Russian club, which surpasses the average peasant of the Azerbaijani championship in terms of the overall level of players. The hosts are able to resolve the issue of reaching the next round already in the first game, providing a comfortable advantage over the Reds. And the fans will probably see a decent number of goals scored.
Prediction for the match: Sochi to win and Over 2.5 goals scored