We hit two away winners in last week’s Champions League qualifiers, with only Ludogorets letting us down on the road in Lithuania against Zalgiris. The Bulgarians had led 1-0 for the majority of the game after an early strike, but were pegged back by two in the last twelve minutes by the home side. That sets up an interesting second leg and we’re giving Ludogorets a chance to redeem themselves with a comfortable win.
we’re also sweet on the chances of our headline pick Maribor, as they welcome Bosnian side Zrinjski to Slovenia. Winning 2-1 already from the away leg, Maribor are strong at home and are expected to put the tie to bed with a bit in hand.
In other games BATE, the Belarus side with recent Champions League experience, take on Armenia’s Alashkert. The tie is finely balanced after last week’s 1-1 draw, but BATE are fancied to make their superiority count this time around. They registered 19 shots last week and 9 on target, while Alashkert failed to register a single strike on target – it was an unfortunate own goal which gifted the Armenian side a valuable point. Meanwhile Salzburg are looking to build on last week’s comfortable 3-0 win over Malta last week, and could well rattle in the goals back on home soil.
Maribor v Zrinjski
Maribor have reached the group stages of the Champions League before, playing in a group containing Chelsea and Schalke back in 2014. They were knocked out at this stage two seasons ago by Astana, before failing to qualify for the competition at all last season. They are back this year and after already showing their superiority to Zrinjski they are expected to go on and win.
These two sides were drawn against each other in 2014, a 0-0 draw in Bosnia followed by a 2-0 Maribor win back in Slovenia. Including those results, Zrinjski have drawn two and lost three of their recent Champions League qualifiers, and it’s hard to see anything other than a comprehensive home victory on Wednesday night.
Alashkert v BATE
BATE are another side with recent group stage experience, and at odds of -105 with BetVictor they are worth taking.
Last week’s home leg really should have resulted in a comfortable home win, but BATE’s inability to finish their chances led to that late own goal and gave the Armenian side a chance. That leaves the team from Belarus with plenty to do, but they will have to start on the front foot in search of away goals. This should be a game of one-way traffic and BATE’s experience can carry them to victory.
Alashkert are appearing in their second successive Champions League campaign, having never taken part in the competition before. They beat FC Santa Coloma in the first qualifying round in 2016 and in this season’s tournament, but were knocked out by Dinamo Tbilisi last term at this stage and a similar fate awaits on Tuesday evening. Look out for the early kick off in this one – 5pm UK time.
Salzburg v Hibernians
Salzburg won 3-0 away to Maltese minnows Hibernians last week to put the tie more or less out of reach, and could open up on home ground this week. The recommended bet is over 3.5 goals at -143 with Ladbrokes and Coral.
The Austrians, sponsored by Red Bull, are no strangers to high scoring games – they beat Duetschlandsberger 7-0 in a domestic cup game over the weekend and are head and shoulders above Wednesday night’s opposition. They missed out on qualification for the group stages last season, going down in extra time to Dinamo Zagreb, and will hope to go one better this time around.
Hibernians managed to beat FCI Tallinn in the previous qualifying round but look hopelessly out of their depth here, and will struggle to keep the score down.
Ludogorets v Zalgiris Vilnius
Finally we’re giving Ludogorets another chance and backing them to beat the -1.5 Asian handicap back on home ground against Lithuanian side Zalgiris. Take the -127 on offer with BetVictor.
Ludogorets made it into last year’s competition proper and scored some respectable results, most notably a 2-2 draw with PSG. They almost embarrassed Arsenal too, with a late Mesut Ozil wondergoal sparing the Gunners blushes in a 3-2 away victory. All looked well last week as they led after 18 minutes, but two late goals from the home side turned the tie on its head.
Zalgiris have been knocked out in each of the last three seasons at the first time of asking in qualification rounds, and last week’s win was their first during that time. It would be quite a shock if they managed to avoid defeat on Wednesday night, but rather than take short odds about a Ludogorets win we’ll throw caution to the wind and back them to win by at least two goals on the night.
Maribor to beat Zrinjski
Wednesday 19th July, 19:15 GMT
BATE to beat Alashkert
Tuesday 18th July 17:00 GMT
Salzburg v Hibernians – Over 3.5 Goals
Wednesday 19th July, 19:30 GMT
Ludogorets -1.5 to beat Zalgiris Vilnius
Wednesday 19th July, 19:30 GMT