Joe Lewis will face Viking FK in Norway tonight with the added confidence of an in-form defence in front of him.
Aberdeen have conceded just one goal in a five game winning streak ahead of the Europa League one legged second qualifying round clash in Stavanger.
Whether it has been three at the back or four the Aberdeen rearguard have stood firm with only two goals leaked in the six games so far this season.
Club captain Lewis said: “Whether we go with three or four at the back, or with wing backs as well, we have the personnel to get the job done.
“The boys can play in a lot of different positions as well so we have a lot of options in defence.
“Although no-one is getting carried away after recent results there is a lot of positivity within the squad at the moment. We want to keep that feel good factor going for as we can.”
Lewis will start his 20th European tie for Aberdeen tonight with that target of qualification for the lucrative group stages remaining elusive.
Lewis made his Euro debut for the Dons in the 3-1 Europa League first qualifying round first leg defeat of Luxembourg’s Fola Esch in on June 30, 2016.
There have been some Euro highs for Lewis such as the 2-0 away win against Siroki Brijeg in Bosnia in 2017, a 1-1 draw with Premier League Burnley the following year and emphatic defeats of Chikhura Sachkhere of Georgia (5-0) and the Faroe Islands’ NSI Runavik (6-0).
There have also been some lows such as the 2016 exit to NK Maribor in Slovenia courtesy of a 1-0 loss (2-1 aggregate) where Aberdeen had a goal wrongly disallowed, a penalty saved and their main striker sent off. The Dons also crashed out 4-0 on aggregate to HNK Rijeka last season.
Lewis said: “I think about getting to the group stages a lot and what an opportunity that can be for all the players and the football club. I think about what reaching the groups could mean to the club.
“Aberdeen have a rich history in Europe and getting ourselves into the groups would feel right. I love European football although I have had some heart-breaking experiences there.”
The number of games required to qualify for the group stages has been halved this season following UEFA’s decision to make all qualifying ties single legged.
UEFA made the decision to change the of the qualifying rounds due to the extraordinary circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic, which had forced a three-month delay in European competitions. The move was made to prevent fixture congestion with UEFA also confirming all qualifying matches would be played behind closed doors.
Although the bid to reach the groups will consist of just four matches instead of eight the route is no less precarious.
Should Aberdeen overcome an in form Viking FK currently on a three game winning streak the reward will be an away clash at Sporting Club de Portugal in Lisbon next Thursday.
Lewis, 32, said: “Although there are less games it is still a difficult route to get to the groups. It will be a challenge but that is what I love about Europe.
“European football is something which attracted me to the club and those nights are
exciting. It is just a shame supporters are not allowed into the stadiums to watch the games.”
Aberdeen set up tonight’s clash in Scandinavia with a 6-0 destruction of Faroe Island part-time minnows NSI Runavik in the first qualifying round at Pittodrie. Runavik had beaten Barry Town of Wales 5-1 in the previous round.
With a step up in class of opponent tonight he will demand the same ruthless approach.
He said: “We were clinical and professional against Runavik which is how we planned it. We got through with no drama.
“I made a conscious effort as that game went on to make sure we didn’t get slack or sloppy with our play. We were ruthless.
“That was an important part of that night against Runavik. That’s how we want to be playing our football against any opposition, with a high press and good intensity.”