Liverpool Hoping to Secure a Win in Champions League Playoff Second Leg After Rocky First Leg
Last week, 20 teams battled over two days to get halfway towards the Champions League group stage. Only one of those games – Sporting Lisbon versus Steaua Bucharest – ended in a draw, but only the 5-0 score line in Celtic versus FC Astana put one team truly out of reach of the losing side.
With Philippe Coutinho still expected to be out of the squad, Liverpool comes into its tie against Hoffenheim 2-1 up but without its star player, and following a lucky 1-0 win against Crystal Palace at the weekend. Liverpool is 4/7 favourite to win and secure passage to the next stage at Anfield on Wednesday, August 23, but Hoffenheim has enough quality to cause an upset with the scoreline so close.
Tuesday, August 22 is highlighted by Napoli travelling to Nice, with the Italians 2-0 up after the first leg and a comfortable 3/4 to win in France. Sevilla left Turkey last week only 2-1 up against Istanbul Basaksehir, but is expected to tally another win and safe passage in this second leg at 21/50.
Also playing is Celtic, all the way in Kazakhstan, against FC Astana. With a 5-0 lead from the first leg, Celtic can afford to lose this game by a few goals, with Astana at 8/5 to in the game. Hapoel Beer Sheva is ahead in their tie with Maribor, but Maribor is expected to win this game at 6/4. Olympiakos Piraeus go to Croatia with a 2-1 lead over HNK Rijeka, but both teams are 33/20 to win the game.
The Liverpool matchup highlights Wednesday, August 23, but an interesting game is on the cards in Romania, with Steaua Bucuresti (FCSB) returning home with a 0-0 draw from its first leg game against Sporting Lisbon. Sporting is expected to claim the win, but at 19/20, the bookies aren’t certain that they’ll get the job done.
Also on Wednesday, Slavia Praha hosts Apoel Nicosia after their first leg ended 2-0 to the Cypriots, and yet the away team is a long 19/4 to win in the return leg. Qarabag, which opened the playoff stage with a win against FC Copenhagen, now travel to Denmark but is expected to lose. Finally, CSKA Moscow brings its 1-0 lead back to Russia when it faces Young Boys in their second leg.
It’s going to be a heated night of soccer, with most of the teams conceivably still able to get to the Champions League group stage.