The participating teams in the UEFA Champions League qualification rounds have now been pruned to 20 teams. 10 teams will qualify for the playoffs at the end of this round. Indeed, the bar and intensity have been raised.
Benfica seems just about home and dry after defeating Midtjylland 4-1 yesterday in Portugal. And yet, the likes of Rangers and Sheriff have their work cut out, losing narrowly to Union St. Gilloise and Viktoria Plzen respectively.
Some mouthwatering fixtures are set for tonight. Last season’s Europa Conference League sensation, Bodo/Glimt, Dynamo Kiev and Qarabag will be keen to make their home advantage count.
If yesterday’s outcomes are anything to go by, tonight’s fixtures will record goals aplenty.
Punters will have their eyes peeled and hope to cash out big. Some bet options could well guarantee that.
Here are four scintillating options that look sure to deliver great returns in the round 3 of the UCL qualifiers.
Over 1.5 Goals Involving Bodo/Glimt
Bodo/Glimt and Zalgiris will meet for the second time in a year tonight. The pair last met in the Europa Conference League qualifiers last season with the Norwegian side progressing 3-2 on aggregate.
It is fair to expect that the Lithuanian side will be desperate to get one back this time out.
Until now, Kjetil Knutsen’s men have gone about their business in the Champions League qualifiers with flair and some measure of ruthlessness. They defeated KI 4-3 on aggregate in round one before hitting Linfield for eight in the last round.
And yet, their opponents have not been pushovers. In fact, they have not been breached in their last three qualifier matches.
Bodo has it all to do, especially at home. The Eliteserien Champions will expectedly take the initiative and try to dominate the play.
Amahl Pellegrino and Runar Esojord will play pivotal roles if they are to earn a comfortable win at the Aspmyra Stadion.
For Vladmir Cheburin, it will be same nof the same. He’ll look to consolidate on his well-drilled defensive line with the aim to frustrate. Still, he will have his sights on snatching an odd-goal win.
However, the hosts will rely on familiarity in putting the visitors to the sword. A win seems feasible, but it is safer to bank on over 1.5 goals.
Maccabi Haifa To Win
The Israeli giants host Apollon Limassol of Cyprus at the Sammy Ofer stadium tonight.
And after a statement 4-0 win against Olympiacos in Greece in the second round, it is only normal that Barak Bakhar’s side will be confident going into this tie.
For all of the Greens’ poor form on the continent, they have been largely impressive at home. In truth, they have stayed unbeaten in their last five matches.
Riding on the back of his brace away at Olympiacos, Frantzdy Pierrot should expect to start.
Apollon themselves have blown hot and cold in the last few weeks, failing to win any of three friendly matches played this season.
Maccabi appears to be favourites to win, and they have shown what they are capable of in these qualifying series.
A slim win for the team from Israel seems the likely outcome. Smart punters can therefore rely on this option to reap great rewards.
Over 2.5 Goals Involving Dynamo Kiev
After a hard-fought 2-1 aggregate win against Fenerbahce in the second of the UCL qualifiers, the Ukrainian side will take on Sturm Graz from Austria.
Mircea Lucescu’s team has struggled for form this season. And unfortunately, the abrupt end to the league season following the country’s unrest will be blamed for this.
Yet, they will be banking on some inner strength and motivation to see off this tie with the playoffs in sight.
Meanwhile, Sturm Graz has been in superb form, especially in the league where they have garnered four points from six matches. Even more, last weekend’s 2-1 win against RB Salzburg might just be what spurs them on tonight.
Rasmus Hojlund, the hero then, with a brace, will fancy his chances.
Lucescu will look to stick with his trusted 4-3-3 formation, while his opponents will adopt a 4-4-2 outlook.
Everything points at a keenly-contested, physical encounter at the Stadion Minesky. For certain, there will be goals. An over 2.5 goals bet looks just apt.
Crvena Zvezda To Score At Least Two Goals
Red Star Belgrade, as they are popularly known, will host Pyunik Yerevan tonight in the UCL qualifier.
By every indication, Red Star should ease past their Armenian counterparts. The Serbian Champions sit atop the league table with four wins out of four, things looking just as expected.
Dejan Stankovic will expect a comfortable outing, one where they get a convincing victory ahead of the second leg.
Milan Pavkov who has scored four goals in the new campaign will be licking his lips, ready to plunder the goals against the minnows.
In fairness, Pyunik has fought its way through to this point: defeating Cluj on penalties in the first round before going past Diddeleng 4-1 on aggregate after losing the first leg.
And yet, Red Star will pose too high a hill to climb for Roman Monayorv’s side.
While The Stars should win this encounter, they should do it with some swagger, scoring at least two goals.