Preview: Hacken vs. The New Saints

Preview: Hacken vs. The New Saints

Hacken and The New Saints are set to embark on their Champions League qualification campaigns when they meet at Bravida Stadium in the first round on Wednesday evening.

The hosts have never reached the qualifying rounds of the competition before, while the visitors have never been past the third round.

Hacken won the Allsvenskan for the first time in 2022, granting them qualification to the first round of Champions League qualifying, but they do have some prior experience in Europe, having reached the Europa League qualifiers on seven occasions.

The Swedish side won the 2022 Allsvenskan after collecting 64 points in 30 games, finishing seven points above second-placed Djurgardens IF, and they are faring well in their ongoing league season.

Although they are third in the league table, the Wasps are still in a good position to defend their league title, currently sitting just three points behind league leaders Elfsborg, with more than half of the season left to play.

Ahead of their maiden Champions League campaign, Hacken have been in very good form, winning four and drawing one of their last five league matches, most recently picking up a 2-1 win away at AIF Stockholm.

Per-Mathias Hogmo’s side made things more difficult than they should have been, but second-half goals from Mikkel Rygaard and Ibrahim Sadiq secured a 2-1 victory, keeping up the momentum heading into their first-ever Champions League qualifier.

The New Saints are more experienced in the competition, having reached the qualifying stages on 15 prior occasions, but the last time they progressed beyond the second qualifying round was ahead of the 2010-11 season, before they were comfortably dispatched of by Anderlecht.

The Welsh side have dominated their domestic league for quite some time now, winning a total of 15 league titles, including the last two on the spin, taking an incredible 60 points from 22 games in the 2022-23 campaign.

Craig Harrison’s side went unbeaten across the entire league season, chalking up some huge victories along the way, giving Bala Town a 6-0 thrashing in their most recent competitive match, the Welsh FA Cup final.

New Saints have since gone on to play four friendly matches, most recently defeating Macclesfield FC 1-0, courtesy of a first-half goal from Declan McManus, who has scored in seven games on the bounce.

Hacken form (all competitions):

The New Saints form (all competitions):

We say: Hacken 3-0 The New Saints
The New Saints may well dominate their domestic league, but it is a much-lower standard than the Allsvenskan, so the hosts should run out comfortable winners.

In truth, the Swedish side’s main aim will probably be to chalk up a lead big enough to ensure they can rest players in the second leg next week.

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