Olympiakos and Dinamo Zagreb have one foot in the Champions League group stage while Krasnodar and Ajax hopes of making it hang in the balance. Here are the Winners and Losers from the Champions League qualifiers. Bet on the Champions League here.
Last year Slavia Prague bowed out in the third qualifying round in the Champions League, as they lost to Dynamo Kiev. However, they made it all the way to the Europa League quarter-finals where they were eventually eliminated by Chelsea. Given their more successful run in the Europa League last year, Slavia appear to have one foot in the group stage draw following their hard-fought 1-0 win over CFR Cluj away from home. The Czech side are on target to reach the group stage for the first time in 12 years but will be wary of a Cluj side who won 4-3 away at Celtic in the previous round to send the Sottish champions crashing out.
Olympiakos look set to reach the Champions League group stage after they beat Russian side Krasnodar 4-0. The Greek side last took part in the group stage in the 2017/2018 campaign where they failed to get out of their group. This was a disappointing result for Krasnodar who shocked Portuguese giants Porto in the third qualifying round to knock them out. Even so, the Greek giants are on the verge of progression after a year spent in the Europa League.
Red Star Belgrade
Crvena Zvezda or Red Star Belgrade as it is popularly known made their debut in the competition last season and still are one match away to make this year’s group stages. The Serbian side, who beat champions Liverpool 2-0 in last season’s group stage, saw a lead cancelled out late on to draw 2-2 away to Young Boys. However, they have two away goals which will be an important factor in the second leg next week. They also have the advantage of playing in front of their full-throated fans who create an intimidating atmosphere for visiting teams. Can they do it?
Noussair Mazraoui and Ajax
Ajax hopes of qualifying for the Champions League group stage hang in the balance after they drew 0-0 away to Cypriot side Apoel Nicosia in the first leg of their play-off tie. Last year’s semi-finalists were indebted to their goalkeeper Andre Onana who made a string of fine saves. They also played without Noussair Mazraoui for the last ten minutes after he was sent off following a second yellow. Without an away goal Erik ten Hag’s side have work to do in the second leg at home, a place where they’ve won just once in their last five matches.
Over 2.5 Goals bettors
Goals were hard to come by in the play-offs with only four matches seeing three or more goals. In Tuesday’s matches, only two goals were scored in three matches as teams were more resigned to protect their goal given the stage of the competition. On Wednesday’s matches, Olympiakos 4-0 win and Young Boys 2-2 draw against Red Star were the only high scoring matches.
Krasnodar were soundly beaten 4-0 by Olympiakos in the first leg and taking into account what happened in the third qualifying round, the Russian side were outplayed in Greece. Although a miracle is not beyond their grasp, four goals are almost impossible to overturn. In the third qualifying round, after losing 1-0 at home to Porto, they produced a stunning comeback to win 3-2 after being 3-0 up at half-time. They can’t afford to repeat the poor performance in Greece at home. Can they upset the odds?