The Artist Formerly Known as the Home Nations has it tough on the continent midweek.
We’d all like to see increased participation from clubs we’re very familiar with in European competition, but Celtic and Dundalk are really going to struggle in the away legs here. Even if many among us aren’t necessarily familiar with the teams who could end up beating them.
With that in mind, here’s a treble to set you right up for the return of the Premier League this weekend.
Slovan are a side who, without the managerial trouble they’re currently experiencing, would walk all over Dundalk.
It’s a horrible tie for the Lilywhites. Going to Slovakia might not seem too big an ordeal because Ryanair do cheap flights there, but the gulf between these two sides is enormous.
Slovan won their league by 14 points last year and it’s a touch above the League of Ireland, especially at the top half.
Dundalk aren’t near the side they were under Stephen Kenny and Vinny Perth still lacks that marquee win to convince anyone of anything else. They’ll fall here, and they’ll likely fall hard.
Celtic don’t really do cagey in Europe and that’s a credit to them.
There’s something quite nice about an identity that ties your hands to the philosophy that you’re bigger than the sum of your individual parts. So in that sense, they won’t be intimidated, but they could easily be outplayed.
The heart of Transylvania is probably not the ideal summer destination for a holiday, but the Bhoys will be hoping they’re not fatally bitten in Romania.
Cluj will score. Of this, I’m sure. Celtic, defensively, probably have little to answer in the SPL because of the possession they maintain at home, but in terms of structure, they’re not top tier by any stretch.
I actually think this could be the game of the round.
From cementing one cliché to dispelling another, going to Russia in August is a non-event.
Especially not Krasnodar. It’s basically in Georgia, and if they were off to play Dinamo Tbilisi, nobody would be suggesting anything other than a convincing win.
Now, this is little to do with the geography, and far more to do with the team strength of course, but Russian sides have been less showy in Europe over the last five years as they had been in previous years and that’s usually because clubs are more about political statements and government interference than they are about 11 v 11.
The standard is weak and this Porto team, which features a typically exciting crop of young players like Luis Diaz, has been blended with experience through the likes of Casillas, Pepe and Alex Telles.
This might not be the most attractive Porto side to date, but it’s potentially the best one. You don’t want to meet them in the group stages – and they will be in the group stages.
Pick: Match Odds – Porto (7/5)
- Slovan v Dundalk: Handicap Betting, Slovan Bratislava -1 (6/5)
- Cluj v Celtic: Both Teams To Score – Yes (11/10)
- Krasnodar v Porto: Match Odds – Porto (7/5)
A £/€1 treble on these three selections returns £/€11.09 including stake on paddypower.com.