Strange to think that so early in the season, before most seasons have even started, we can have so many make-or-break matches on the cards for some of Eastern and Central Europe’s biggest teams.
But that’s exactly what’s happening on Wednesday night when league champions and runners up face off against each other with the aim of making the Champions League proper.
We’ve had a look at the matches to find some of the best bets for you.
Runners up in the Croatian NHL, Lokomotiva come up against Austria’s Rapid Vienna with the away side being much fancied to win here. This could be a tough test for the Austrians though, they’ve not had a competitive match since July 5th. Lokomotiva have been playing straight through since May so you could argue the home side will be sharper while at the same time argue that the away side could be more rested and prepared.
There’s plenty of goals in both sides here, Lokomotiva averaged 2.11 goals last season at home, conceding 0.89. Rapid were decent on their travels last season too, scoring 1.75 but conceding 1.81. We don’t think the visitors will have it easy, even though you’d expect them to win so we’re backing Both Teams to Score at some decent odds.
This one is fairly even on the markets although in the To Qualify market we can see that punters are favouring the home side to do the business. The Bulgarian champions were formidable in their league last season, losing just one of their 31 matches. The away side also won their championship and lost just six of their 36 in Denmark.
Both teams had very good scoring records last season; Ludogorets averaged 2.50 goals scored and Midtylland scored 1.56. However, both teams have very stingy defences, the Bulgarians conceded just 0.44 goals at home last season while the Danes only conceded 0.50 on their travels. We’re going with Under 2.5 goals thanks to the defensive strengths of both sides.
Cluj ran away with the league title in Romania losing just four matches of their 26-game season. Dinamo Zagreb were even better in the Croatian NHL, losing just two of their 36 matches and the market is siding with the away side here.
Cluj though could put up a decent fight here, they were averaging 1.96 goals per game last season, conceding just 0.61, while the Croatian champions averaged 2.44 goals per match, conceding 0.67. Just like the match above the steely-defences of both teams will have to be in top form to keep the scoreline down. You’d expect the away side to Qualify here but we’re liking the look of Both Teams to Score especially with those great scoring records.
The home side are currently struggling in their league and find themselves 10th in the table after winning it last season, while Sarajevo have just three points from four matches in their current league campaign but like Brest won their league title last season.
It must be said though that Brest are stiff opposition at home, they’ve lost just four of their last 10 there, winning all six others. Sarajevo though are pretty good on the road, of their last 10 matches they lost just one, winning four but drawing five. Both sides have good scoring records too, Brest are averaging 1.90 goals per game while the Bosnians have been chalking up 1.18 goals on their league travels. We should see some action here so we’re backing Over 2.5 goals.
The Polish champions come up against the Crypriot champions here. The home side didn’t exactly run away with the league last season, they lost 10 of their 37 matches on the way to winning their eighth league of the 2000s. The away side lost just three times over their 23-game league last season, winning the league on goal difference.
The home side have been playing consistently since the Polish league returned in May but Omonia have only played two competitive matches since March. With Legia averaging 2.53 goals at home last season as well we have to go with the Polish champions here.
All five of these picks in an Acca will give you odds of around 17/1.
Tips for Wednesday’s Champions League matches
18.00 Lokomotiva Zagreb vs Rapid Vienna: Both Teams to Score
18.30 Ludogorets vs Midtylland: Under 2.5 goals
19.00 CFR Cluj vs Dinamo Zagreb: Both Teams to Score
19.00 Dinamo Brest vs FK Sarajevo: Over 2.5 Goals
19.00 Legia vs Omonia: Legia to Win
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