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Sean Wallace: No dead rubbers in Europe for Aberdeen with £870,000 still up for grabs

Aberdeen can also secure vital club coefficient points in the Europa Conference League games against HJK Helsinki and Eintracht Frankfurt.

Aberdeen's Duk celebrating on the pitch with graeme shinnie during a conference league game
Aberdeen's Duk (L) celebrates after scoring to make it 1-0 against PAOK with Graeme Shinnie. Image: SNS.

There are no dead rubbers for Aberdeen in the remaining Europa Conference League group games despite hopes of progression being extinguished.

The Dons still have almost £1million in prize money up for grabs as well as vital Uefa club coefficient ranking points.

Those are tangible rewards for finishing Group G on a high in the remaining fixtures against HJK Helsinki and Eintracht Frankfurt.

Then you also add in the pride factor as Aberdeen, who have competed well in Europe, will not want to end the campaign without a victory.

Aberdeen’s aspirations of progression from Group G to the knockout phase ended when drawing 2-2 with PAOK in Greece.

Graeme Shinnie celebrates Dante Polvara's goal
Captain Graeme Shinnie celebrates Dante Polvara’s goal to make it 2-0 against PAOK at Pittodrie. Image: SNS.

With the Dons on two points from four games with only two fixtures remaining, they cannot catch PAOK or Eintracht Frankfurt.

PAOK are on 10 points and the German giants have nine.

Both will progress from the groups.

However as 1,500 Aberdeen supporters arrive in Finland to face HJK Helsinki there is still a lot at stake for the Pittodrie club.

There is the major financial boost of a 500,000 Euros (£435,000) Uefa prize for every group stage win.

That is one million Euros (£870,000) up for grabs in the remaining two fixtures.

Aberdeen's Jamie McGrath celebrating with Graeme Shinnie and Barrie Robson
Aberdeen’s Jamie McGrath celebrates his equaliser against PAOK in Greece with Graeme Shinnie (L) and manager Barry Robson. Image: SNS

A very welcome cash bonus going into the January transfer window where the Dons will bid to strengthen the squad further.

The Dons have already bagged £290,000  as each draw in the group is rewarded with a 166,000 Euros (£145,000) prize.

However they can ramp up that prize pot substantially by winning the two remaining Group G fixtures.

There are also valuable Uefa coefficient points up for grabs that could rocket Aberdeen up the Euro rankings.

The Dons are currently 177th in the Uefa rankings, way off their long term target of smashing into the top 100.

Aberdeen's Jamie McGrath scoring a free kick
Aberdeen’s Jamie McGrath scores a sensational free-kick equaliser to make it 2-2 against PAOK. Image: SNS.

Coefficients are based on the results of clubs competing over the most recent five seasons in Europe.

The rankings determine the seeding of each club in relevant Uefa competition draws.

Aberdeen are currently sitting on 7.5 points, having already been awarded two points for the current campaign – plus adding in points from previous seasons.

That is because one coefficient point is awarded for a draw – and the Reds have drawn with PAOK and HJK Helsinki.

Participation in the groups brings a minimum of 2.5 points, so the worst case scenario is Aberdeen finishing with a coefficient of eight points.

Aberdeen's Stefan Gartenmann in action against Eintracht Frankfurt
Aberdeen’s Stefan Gartenmann shoots against Eintracht Frankfurt in Germany. Image: SNS

However with two points awarded for each group stage win the Reds could rack up 11.5 points.

There are a number of clubs above Aberdeen in the Uefa rankings who are not in Europe this season or already knocked out.

They will drop down the rankings.

As things stand winning the remaining two games would elevate Aberdeen up to 116th with Trabzonspor (Turkey) and Zalgrius Vilnius (Lithuania).

However the standings are fluid and will fluctuate.

But one thing is certain, two wins will leapfrog the Dons up the rankings.

Aberdeen's Nicky Devlin clapping with his arms above his head
Aberdeen’s Nicky Devlin playing against Eintracht Frankfurt. Image: SNS.

Aberdeen will face HJK Helsinki with the temperature set to plummet to minus 10 in the Finnish capital.

However the Dons could have the edge as Helsinki have not played a domestic game since losing 2-1 to KPS on October 21.

That was the final game of the Finnish season which shut down before the brutal winter.

HJK Helsinki retained their league title, edging out KPS on goal difference.

However they have played just twice in the last month – both defeats to PAOK and Eintracht Frankfurt.

Aberdeen's Bojan Miovski and Duk celebrating on the pitch
Aberdeen’s Bojan Miovski celebrates after he scores to make it 1-1 against HJK Helsinki. Image: SNS.

HJK Helsinki could be ring rusty and are in the midst of a four-game losing streak.

Uefa also handed Aberdeen an advantage for the home clash against Eintracht Frankfurt on December 14.

European football’s governing body banned Frankfurt supporters from the game at Pittodrie.

That is due their fans throwing objects and using pyrotechnics in their 1-0 away win at HJK Helsinki on November 9.

The German giants were set to bring 1,750 fans to Scotland.

It will only be the Red Army inside Pittodrie for that clash which will give the Dons an edge.

There is still much to play for – and Aberdeen must grab it.

Aberdeen supporters with a red flag with Willie Miller on it
Aberdeen supporters ahead of the clash with HJK Helsinki. Image: Shutterstock.

Mercury plummets in Helsinki

Aberdeen’s away fixtures against PAOK three weeks ago and HJK Helsinki tomorrow show the contrast of European football.

When reporting on the PAOK game the temperature was a balmy mid 20s.

Aberdeen fans attended the game at the Toumba Arena in shorts and T-shirts.

Fast forward a few weeks and now I am reporting on the Dons in freezing Finland.

The mercury is predicted to drop to  minus 10 on the day of the Group G clash against HJK Helsinki at the Bolt Arena.

Snow is also forecast for match day.

It was minus 14 in Helsinki on Sunday.

Aberdeen players lined up on the pitch before the match
The Aberdeen players line up before the match against HJK Helsinki. Image: Shutterstock.

In three weeks I have gone from reporting on a game in a T-shirt to wearing long-johns.

I’m based in the Töölö region of Helsinki which close to the seashore and Hietaniemi beach – but there’ll be no sunbathing!

Apparently Finland is the world’s happiest country.

The World Happiness Report ranked 156 countries and Finland received top spot based on factors including generosity, life expectancy and freedom.

Finland has also previously been ranked among the countries with the highest quality of life.

Also Finland is one of the best countries to observe the Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights.

There is a high chance of witnessing the glorious natural light display during winter in Finland… so fingers crossed.

Aberdeen fans will be hopeful of singing ‘The Northern Lights of Old Aberdeen’ in celebration of a first win in Group G.