UEFA Champions League Qualifying Preview: Group Stages Just Two Games Away
Final qualifiers for Europe’s premier club competition gets underway this coming Tuesday (7 August)
The third and final qualifying round for the UEFA Champions League starts this Tuesday night (7 August). There are no fewer than seven ties as clubs strive to reach the group stage of the continent’s premier club competition.
The likes of Ajax and Dynamo Kiev, regulars in the group stages over recent years, are all in action, but there is one tie that really stands out. The meeting between Benfica and Fenerbache promises to be a mouth watering prospect between two teams who cannot fathom failure at this stage of the tournament.
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First up is a tie between Swedish club Malmo and Hungarian outfit MOL Vidi. These two sides have met in European competition once previously, over 30 years ago, with MOL Vidi going through on away goals.
It is Malmo, however, who come into this first leg tie as the red hot favourites to pick up the win and a crucial advantage ahead of the return encounter. You can pick up Malmo to record a win at just 1.44, while MOL Vidi are all the way out at 7.50 – a 1-0 win for the home side is priced competitively at 5.50,
Also on the cards is a clash between Serbian club Red Star Belgrade and Spartak Trnava of Slovakia in Belgrade. Red Star have already made it through two qualifying rounds to make it to this stage and look to have found their match rhythm.
First, Red Star comfortably saw their way past Spartaks Jurmala 2-0 on aggregate before thrashing FK Suduva 5-0 over two legs in the next round. In addition, they sit comfortably top of their national league championship, a huge 17 points ahead of city rivals Partizan.
Spartak have also made it through the first two qualifying rounds. Trnava edged past Zrinjski Mostar 2-1 on aggregate and beat Legia Warsaw by the same score line. They have made a stuttering start to the Hungarian national league, however, having lost two of their opening three games.
And it is Red Star who come into this game as the red hot favourites to collect a win. You can back the Serbians to earn an advantage ahead of the second leg at just 1.28, while Spartak are all the way out at 12.00 to get a victory on the road.
Red Star have won six games in a row and this match should see that run continuing. A comprehensive 3-0 win for the home side is priced at 7.00, meaning that a US$ bet would lead to a US$35 pay out.
However, the biggest game of the night comes from the Estadio da Luz in Lisbon, where Portuguese giants Benfica host Turkish outfit Fenerbache. The Portuguese side have not been forced to go through the qualifying round since 2011, and could have hoped for an easier draw.
But Benfica can take heart from the last time they met their Turkish opponents in European competition. The pair met in the Europa League qualifiers back in the 2012/13 season and the Portuguese prevailed 3-2 on aggregate following a 3-1 win on home soil before losing the return match 1-0.
And it is Benfica who come into this game as the favourites to win at home again. You can back the Portuguese club to pick up the victory at a price of just 1.55, while Fenerbache are priced far higher at 6.00 and a draw is at 3.90.
With both these sides playing bold, open football we could well see goals. While it is never easy trying to predict the exact score line of a game, a 3-1 win for Benfica in Lisbon – just as they managed six years ago – is priced at competitively at 15.00.
In addition to betting on the outcome of this game, you can also make a more straightforward bet based on who will qualify for the group stages. And again, it is Benfica who come in at the shorter price of 1.50, while you could more than double your money by backing the Turkish side at 2.50.
UEFA Champions League Third Qualifying round (leg 1 of 2):
(2.10) FC Astana x Dinamo Zagreb (3.75); draw (3.10)
(2.00) FK Qarabag x BATE (4.00); draw (3.20)
(1.44) Malmo x MOL (7.50); draw (4.20)
(2.45) Slavia Prague x Dynamo Kiev (3.00); draw (3.10)
(3.40) Standard Liege x Ajax (2.15); draw (3.30)
(1.28) Red Star x Spartak Trnava (12.00); draw (5.00)
(1.55) Benfica x Fenerbache (6.00); draw (3.90)