UEFA Champions League Playoffs Preview
This is it: the final stage of qualifying for the most elite competition in European domestic soccer, the UEFA Champions League. With 20 teams left competing for a place in the group stage – ten on Tuesday and ten on Wednesday for the first legs – we take a look at the upcoming playoff fixtures.
Tuesday, August 15
The first match to kick-off of the playoffs stage is between FC Qarabag of Azerbaijan and FC Copenhagen of Denmark, with the home team expected to take the win at 5/4. After that, the other four games get underway.
Cypriot club Apoel Nicosia welcome Slavia Praha of Czechia in what looks to be a closely contested affair, as does Young Boys versus CSKA Moscow, with the first leg taking place in Switzerland. At the same time, Portuguese giants Sporting Lisbon will be seeking a straightforward home win against FCSB of Romania.
The Premier League’s Liverpool will be taking on Hoffenheim of the Bundesliga on Tuesday as well. News coming into the big clash is that Liverpool will be without Philippe Coutinho amidst transfer rumours linking him to Barcelona.
Wednesday, August 16
All of Wednesday’s games kick-off at the same time, which includes the longest journey of any team at this stage. Kazakhstan’s FC Astana need to travel all the way over to Scotland to face Celtic, and at 2/5, the Glaswegians are expected to claim the win.
Israel’s Hapoel Beer Sheva are favoured at 8/15 to overcome Slovenian outfit Maribor, and SSC Napoli of Serie A are also heavily favoured to leave their home ground as the victors against Nice, of Ligue 1, at 27/100. Olympiakos Piraeus, representing Greece at this integral stage of the tournament, will be hosting Rijeka of Croatia, in which the potentially troublesome away team come in at 23/4 to steal the win.
Finally, before their domestic league La Liga has even kicked off, Sevilla must travel all the way to Turkey to play Istanbul Basaksehir and aren’t as favoured as one would assume at 23/20.
The reverse fixtures will take place on Tuesday, August 22 and Wednesday, August 23, with all 20 teams going all-out to secure their place in this season’s UEFA Champions League group stage.