Birkirkara v Hearts tips – Jambo’s to be held by Maltese part-timers
Just look at Celtic for an example of how not to underestimate inferior opposition and Hearts will be mindful of this when they meet Maltese side Birkirkara in a Europa League qualifier tonight.
July 14th, 2016
Celtic’s 1-0 defeat to Lincoln Red Imps served as a reminder of how upsets do happen, especially when complacency is allowed to creep in. Having witnessed the Scottish Premiership champions crashing to a shocking defeat in Gibraltar earlier this week, we’re of the opinion that another upset of less massive proportions is a realistic possibility this evening in Malta.
The Ta Qali National Stadium will be the venue as Birkirkara collide with Heart of Midlothian in the Europa League qualifiers and one should be mindful of the fact that the Maltese outfit came close to reaching the group stages of last season’s competition but for a penalty shoot-out defeat to Premier League side West Ham United.
The part-timers defeated Bosnian side Siroki Brijeg 3-1 to set themselves up with a clash against a Hearts side which finished third in the Scottish Premiership behind Aberdeen and champions Celtic.
The Jambos have improved much over the past couple of seasons, following their relegation to the second tier of the Scottish game by securing a relatively easy promotion and going on to finish in the top three of the top flight in their first season back at the top table. Their preparation for this tie was a disappointing 3-1 loss to Dunfermline, however they start tonight’s match as firm favourites with William Hill going 4/5 for a Hearts win.
The Scottish side are understandably clear favourites to progress in the tournament at the expense of Birkirkara, however it’s unlikely to be quite as straightforward as that. The hosts will be eager to remain in the competition for as long as possible, whilst Hearts may not go all out for the win in this first leg, instead concentrating on the return match at Tynecastle where they will be seeking the win required to go through to the next round.
These qualifiers can be very drab affairs and we’re not anticipating a goal-filled encounter this evening, therefore we’ll be backing Under 2.5 goals at 8/11 with Bet365.
When it comes to European competition, Scottish clubs haven’t enjoyed much success in recent years, the low point perhaps being Celtic’s defeat to Lincoln Red Imps earlier this week. Hearts should avoid a similar fate tonight, however we don’t expect to see a winner tonight at the Ta Qali Stadium.