Aberdeen boss Stephen Glass believes Euro opponents BK Hacken will be in the dark about his new-look side and aims to exploit their uncertainty.
The Swedes have been forced to play a guessing game by Glass as to his tactics, formation and starting line-up ahead of Thursday’s clash at Pittodrie.
Glass insists ensuring there was an air of mystery surrounding his rebuilt team was one of the reasons he opted to conduct friendlies and training at the Reds’ Cormack Park complex.
Both friendlies were closed door to keep out prying BK Hacken eyes ,whilst also ensuring there was no footage available ahead of the Uefa Europa Conference League second qualifying round first leg.
He is hoping the element of surprise can give the Reds an extra edge in the bid to secure a clash with Austria Vienna or Breidablik of Iceland in the next round.
On keeping BK Hacken in the dark, Glass said: “It came into the thinking.
“It was a bit of a by-product.
“We didn’t go anywhere to play a game for that reason.
“We could have, because local teams would have liked to have us for a home game.
“However, I felt it was something we can do because we have a new group of players, a whole new staff and we might play in a certain way that the other team might not know.
“They (BK Hacken) can guess and they might be well-educated, but they don’t know because they haven’t seen us.
“It is important, because we have been able to watch their games.
“They have a mode of working that is working for them, but we are a little bit unknown to them.
“It is important what we can do to influence the game from our side.”
No surprises for Glass in Euro tie
In contrast, Glass has studied footage of the Gothenburg side’s recent Allsvenskan games and knows the Swedes inside out.
There will be no surprises despite the arrival of new manager Per-Mathias Hogmo last month, who has won all three games in charge and switched his starting formation from the 4-3-3 used in his first two games to 4-4-2 at the weekend.
Glass said: “We know what to expect.
“They have changed, but just a little bit.
“It hasn’t been wholesale changes because it is still a similar group of players.
“They changed to the manager they brought in because he fits their style.
“They are very dangerous on the counter-attack, they aren’t afraid to defend and take it.
“I know there is a risk teams can do something different, but when you have won three games on the spin like they have under his management then I can imagine what is going to happen.”
— BK Häcken (@bkhackenofcl) July 20, 2021
BK Hacken’s resurgence expected by Glass
When Aberdeen were drawn against BK Hacken on July 16, the Gothenburg-based club were rock-bottom of the Swedish top flight.
They have now won four straight league matches, three under Hogmo, to rise to 16th to eighth in the Allsvenskan, level on points with city rivals IFK Gothenburg.
Glass believes the resurgence in form will change the perception of BK Hacken since the draw was made, maybe even for some of his own players.
He said: “The perception from outwith our staff has gone up.
“We were already respectful of them and the players now realise they are a very good team.
“It makes us aware of how dangerous they are and that can help your performance at times.
“The fact they have won three games in a row, they are not going to surprise us by being good because we know they are good.”
No concern over lack of game time
Whilst BK Hacken’s build up to the Euro tie has been one of winning momentum in their league campaign, Aberdeen have played just two pre-season closed-door games against Scottish Cup and League Cup winners St Johnstone (0-0) and Championship Inverness Caley Thistle (1-1).
Scheduled friendlies against Cove Rangers and English Championship side Reading were both cancelled due to Covid-19 issues within the opposition camps.
Glass insists having the pre-season friendly schedule slashed in half by coronavirus has not hampered his preparations for BK Hacken.
He said: “We had the Cove and Reading games cancelled.
“The Cove one, Paul Hartley (Cove manager) was really good because we were playing on the Thursday and he let us know on the Tuesday.
“We were able to change our training and in effect we got a better week’s training because we were able to drive a wee bit longer.
“We then ended up giving players the 60 minutes they would have got against Cove in an inter-squad game.
“So that didn’t affect us.
“The Reading one affected us a bit more.
“It meant we had to pick a group that we wanted to get 90 minutes into them, what they have missed in training or what they need for Thursday.
“We have managed to get another game for Friday against Cove, so we will make up the balance with that.
“The players who don’t play Thursday will play Friday.
“Pre-season is well-balanced.”
Leo Bengtsson stod för ett av fjolårets snyggaste mål när han avgjorde bortamatchen mot IFK Norrköping. Får vi se ett nytt drömmål från ”Bjässen” idag? pic.twitter.com/7GS6YrKHlM
— BK Häcken (@bkhackenofcl) July 18, 2021
Hacken have been playing games, but Glass talks up ‘control’
Aberdeen will face a BK Hacken side 12 games into their league campaign.
Glass insists his pre-season preparations have worked as planned and playing St Johnstone in a friendly at Cormack Park on Friday added an further element of control.
BK Hacken had to make the seven-hour, 400-mile round trip to IFK Norrkoping on Sunday.
🔴 Thursday night's match with BK Hacken is now SOLD OUT!
— Aberdeen FC (@AberdeenFC) July 20, 2021
Glass said the difference in match sharpness from competitive league action and from playing friendlies in an intense pre-season training period can be “overestimated”.
He said: “As a group we haven’t played games as a team like BK Hacken have recently, but what we have done is control how long we want to work and for how long.
“That is something we have managed to use to our advantage.
“They played Sunday away from home, had to travel and get home.
“You would rather be in the element of playing games, but the margin of difference that can make can be overestimated, although I do think it is better to be playing games.”