Aberdeen will need to pull off the club’s biggest Euro result this century to keep the Europa League bid alive – but it can be done.
Landing Portuguese giants Sporting Lisbon in the third qualifying round is both a mouth-watering and daunting outcome for the Reds.
As tantalising as that potential tie in Portugal is, Aberdeen must first overcome Viking FK in Norway in the second qualifying round tie.
That will be no walk in the park because the Norwegians are already 16 games into their campaign.
Dons boss Derek McInnes will have his squad fully focused on the trip to Scandinavia on September 17.
Take your eyes off the prize and that prize might disappear.
Should Aberdeen progress past Viking FK, facing the multi-million pound talent of Sporting Lisbon does not necessarily spell the end of the dream to reach the Europa League group stages.
Travelling to the 50,095 Estádio José Alvalade stadium in European competition under normal circumstances would be intimidating.
However, the Europa League during the coronavirus pandemic is far from normal as the game will be closed door with no supporters.
The potential tie with Sporting was discussed on this week’s Northern Goal podcast:
Another crucial factor is it will only be Sporting Lisbon’s second competitive match of the season.
Sporting begin the Premeira League campaign with a home clash against Gil Vicente on September 20, just four days before facing off against the winner of the clash between Aberdeen and Viking FK.
In contrast, should they meet in Lisbon, Aberdeen will be deep into their domestic season and are beginning to gel as an attacking team.
Another positive for Aberdeen is that the tie is one-legged and played to a finish in Lisbon. That is where superior match sharpness and fitness could really come into play.
In 2008, Aberdeen held German giants Bayern Munich to a shock 2-2 draw at Pittodrie in the last-16 of the Uefa Cup. A superb result.
However, normal service was resumed when Bayern outclassed Jimmy Calderwood’s Dons 5-1 in the return leg in Germany.
In July 2015, Derek McInnes’ Reds produced one of the finest recent performances by a Scottish team in Europe when destroying HNK Rijeka 3-0 away from home in Croatia.
The Dons ended an 18-month home unbeaten run by Rijeka at the Kandrida Stadium, where Europa League holders Sevilla had failed to win.
Yet beating Sporting Lisbon away would surpass the Bayern and Rijeka results.
It can be done. But first, all focus has to be on seeing off Viking FK to set up the chance of an historic win.
Ross McCrorie set to be bargain for Aberdeen
With each passing game the capture of Ross McCrorie from a major rival looks to be the Scottish transfer deal of the season.
McCrorie has been exceptional in his four starts since arriving from Rangers on a four-year deal.
At every level this move has been a win-win for Aberdeen.
Unable to outlay a transfer fee this season due to the financial hit of the coronavirus, they negotiated a loan deal with the Ibrox club.
Then, to top that off, the Dons secured a rising star who will surely become a senior Scotland international soon on a three-year permanent contract for £350,000.
McCrorie has been superb in both midfield and defence since arriving.
However, what is patently clear is that he will get even better. Aberdeen, not Rangers, will benefit from the improvement of a player who is already a class act.
If McCrorie maintains this level of form, his value will rocket beyond the £350,000 agreed by Rangers.
Aberdeen now boast two of the hottest young talents in the country in McCrorie and Lewis Ferguson.