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The fall-out from the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round first leg between Salzburg and Qarabag means that the Austrian Bundesliga team is a decent bet to win the second leg without conceding an all-important away goal.
Salzburg lost 1-2 to Qarabag in Azerbaijan in what one could only describe as an incident-packed game. Qarabag opened the scoring in the second minute, Salzburg went down to 10 men in the 34th minute, Qarabag lost its captain to two yellow cards in the space of three minutes just before half time, Salzburg equalised in the 77th minute, Qarabag scored its winning goal in the 86th minute and the scorer of that goal received his marching orders in the 88th minute. And that synopsis does not include Salzburg hitting the woodwork twice and forcing seven corner kicks to Qarabag’s zero.
Confidence is not a commodity in short supply in Salzburg but the Austrian Bundesliga title holder has every right to fancy its chance of beating Qarabag convincingly seven days on from its shock road defeat. Qarabag’s best two players, captain Admir Teli and striker Reynaldo, are suspended and, while Salzburg defender Christian Schwegler is banned as well, the wealthy home team has ample depth in its squad.
Salzburg is trading at odds of 1.83 with Boylesports and Paddy Power, to win to nil against Qarabag. The offensive power of Salzburg is such that the scoreline could get very ugly but bookmakers have framed their handicap lines with the view that Qarabag is likely to lose by three goals. So swerve the handicap lines and back Salzburg to win to nil.
One UEFA Champions League third qualifying round second leg favourite that may run up a cricket score is Zenit, which trails AEL 0-1 after being on the wrong end of an upset scoreline last week. Zenit, which will be without Belgian midfielder Axel Witsel as a consequence of his red card in the first leg, had 22 attempts to AEL’s three in Larnaca. Hulk hit the woodwork for Zenit midway through the first half and everything that could possibly go wrong for the Russian Premier League side went wrong. Surely lightning will not strike twice during the return in St Petersburg.
Zenit is available at odds of 1.53 with Paddy Power to cover a one-goal handicap line, while Zenit minus two goals is trading at odds of 2.75 with the same bookmaker. Paddy Power’s offer of odds of 1.57 about Zenit beating AEL without conceding a goal is of great interest as well.
Finally, Lille was dominant in its UEFA Champions League third qualifying round first leg versus Grasshopper and so one is keen to support the French Ligue 1 team at odds of 1.40 with several bookmakers, including Betfred and Winner, to do the double over its Swiss Super League foe.
Grasshopper was able to get just one attempt on target in its 0-2 home loss to Lille as the visiting side made light work of winning the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round first leg. Grasshopper’s only goal-bound effort was blocked on the line in the opening minutes but it was all Lille after that, the French Ligue 1 team going ahead after 29 minutes and sealing the deal four minutes into the second half. Since Lille cannot afford to allow Grasshopper back into the tie – an away goal for the Zurich-based side would put the cats amongst the pigeons – one expects the odds-on favourite to deliver another professional performance.
Lille’s domestic campaign is yet to kick off but Grasshopper has made a miserable start to its Swiss Super League season, losing 0-1 at Zurich, crashing 2-3 at home to Thun and drawing 0-0 at home to Sion. Lille is a worthy favourite.
Zenit -1 to beat AEL (-2) (win to nil)
6th August 17:00 GMT
Odds: 1.53 (2.75) (1.57)
Where to Bet: Paddy Power
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