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Champions League: Celtic to improve home record, Ajax aim for first-leg advantage

29 Jul | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Champions League: Celtic to improve home record, Ajax aim for first-leg advantage

There are many intriguing ties as a slew of big names face each other in the third qualifying round of Europe's elite club competition

4/9 – Celtic (win) v Qarabag

A run of four wins from their last nine Champions League and Europa League matches has led manager Ronny Deila to call for his players to make Celtic Park – the venue of countless memorable European occasions over the years – a fortress again. The Scottish champions are likely to improve that statistic against their Azerbaijan opposition and are boosted by the return of influential forward Kris Commons, who missed the previous round’s victory over Stjarnan because of a broken toe.

4/9 – Salzburg (win) v Malmo

Austria’s champions for three of the last four seasons opened their domestic campaign with a 2-1 defeat at Mattersburg on Saturday, but are expected to put themselves into a commanding position in this tie with a strong performance at the Red Bull Arena. The Swedish side – are also reigning domestic champions – have been playing regularly since their 2015 season got under way in April, though, and will hope their superior match fitness is influential.

9/4 – Steaua Bucharest v Partizan Belgrade (win)

The Romanian side, managed by former player Mirel Rădoi, are without a victory in three games at their home – the Bucharest National Arena – this season. That statistic is open to interpretation, though: a run in the Champions League is considered so imperative to the club’s finances that many of their first-team regulars were rested for the league fixture against Cluj on Saturday. Their Serbian opponents have started the season in fine form, though, scoring 13 times and conceding none en route to winning their first four games domestically and in Europe.

7/4 – Lech Poznan (win) v Basel

It promises to be a memorable night for playmaker Darko Jevtić, the former Basel player who left his hometown club to join the Polish champions on a permanent basis after a successful loan period. The 22-year-old scored seven goals in his new side’s title triumph and the Swiss champions will be fully aware of the quality he possesses. However, after clinching a 3-2 victory at Grasshoppers on Saturday, the visiting side will not be fazed by a trip to the Municipal Stadium.

15/8 – Rapid Vienna v Ajax (win)

The Dutch giants will be relishing a return to the Ernst-Happel-Stadion, the scene of their last Champions League victory – a 1-0 victory over AC Milan – 20 years ago. Managed by former player Frank de Boer, the current side are highly unlikely to repeat the achievement of their predecessors, but should have too much for the Austrian club over two legs. Jasper Cillesen, the Netherlands No. 1 who has been linked with a move to Manchester United, is likely to miss out with a calf injury. The home side will hope to take advantage.

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