Football Football
Horse Racing Horse Racing
Cricket Cricket
Basketball Basketball
Golf Golf

Champions League Acca: Experience will be decisive in play-off first legs

17 Aug | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Champions League Acca: Experience will be decisive in play-off first legs

Even though upsets are unlikely, there's still value to be had by backing the big boys in Europe

30/100 – Manchester United to beat Club Brugge

As the biggest club competing in this stage of the competition, all eyes will be on Manchester United as they seek to avoid a huge upset at the hands of last season’s Pro League runners-up.

While their performances in the Premier League have not been fluent, the Red Devils have still managed to win both of their games so far, largely thanks to the solidity provided in defence by new signing Matteo Darmian and an ever-improving Chris Smalling.

Club Brugge sit top of their domestic league and beat Panathinaikos 4-2 on aggregate in the third qualifying round to reach this stage, but their squad is severely lacking quality when compared to the likes of Juan Mata, Memphis Depay and Wayne Rooney, even if the latter is yet to find his goalscoring form this season.

Playing at Old Trafford, United should record a comfortable win.

9/4 – Lazio and Bayer Leverkusen to draw

Both sides entered directly into this stage by virtue of their league finishes last season – finishing third and fourth in Serie A and the Bundesliga respectively – meaning that this game will be their first taste of competitive European football this season.

It will in fact be Lazio’s first for more than a year, as they were absent from European competitions entirely last season. Their visitors, on the other hand, competed in the Champions League and made it out of their group before being defeated by Atletico Madrid.

Bayer will also be more match-ready, having kicked off their domestic campaign with a victory on Saturday. Lazio, meanwhile, do not start until next weekend.

It will be interesting to see how the German side contend with the intimidating atmosphere of the Stadio Olimpico, which helped Lazio to average over two goals per game at home last season.

This looks to be a close encounter and, with neither side wanting to risk losing the tie in the first leg, a draw looks likely.

19/20 – Sporting CP to beat CSKA Moscow

In one of the more intriguing play-off round ties, Leonid Slutsky’s CSKA Moscow travel to Portugal to face Jorge Jesus’ Sporting.

The last time these sides faced each other was in the final of the UEFA Cup in 2005, where CSKA came out on top with a 3-1 victory. Don’t expect to see a similar scoreline this time, however – CSKA have performed poorly in Europe in recent years, finishing bottom of their Champions League group in both of the last two years.

The long journey from Russia won’t do anything to improve what seems to be a losing mentality when they compete in Europe, so expect the Portuguese side to run out comfortable winners here.

5/2 APOEL Nicosia to beat Astana

While Cypriot side APOEL may be familiar to some thanks to their heroics in the Champions League 2011-12 – they finished top of their group and reached the quarter-finals of the competition – Astana remain an unknown entity.

The Kazakh League champions have never made it past the qualifying round of a European competition, falling in the Europa League qualifiers for the last two years.

They have played far less competitive European games than their visitors and this lack of experience could hurt them.

APOEL, meanwhile, are currently dominating their domestic league, having won it three years in a row, and the Cypriots look a safe bet to emerge from this match victorious.

11/4 Partizan Belgrade to beat BATE Borisov

The Belarusian champions host the Serbian champions as both sides look to qualify for the Champions League and improve upon their most recent showing in the competition.

Indeed, the last time these sides competed in the group stages – BATE in 2015/15 and Partizan in 2010/11 – they were both the whipping boys of their group.

BATE’s path to this stage was relatively easy, although they seemed determined to make it hard for themselves by winning seemingly easy games against Dundalk and Videoton by only a single goal.

Partizan were more convincing, though, beating Dila Gori 3-0 and Steaua Bucharest 5-3. Their convincing win over the Romanian champions in their last game suggested they are slowly adapting to European football and this game could be the perfect opportunity to build on that.

£10 on the five-fold accumulator returns £1081.33.

Money back special: Place a five-fold accumulator (or higher) on any football matches and, if one pick lets you down, Betway will refund you with a free bet up to £25.

Champions League betting

*Odds and amounts correct at time of publication but subject to change. See site for latest.