Celtic v FC Astana
Celtic’s biggest bit of business this summer has been keeping the services of star men Moussa Dembele and Kieran Tierney. Whilst the likes of Oliver Ntcham and Jonny Hayes will no doubt be important additions throughout the season for Brendan Rodgers’ men, any success in the Champions League will rely heavily on French striker Dembele.
The Third Qualifying round was tough for Celtic, beating Rosenborg 1-0 on aggregate, but since then the Hoops have been in emphatic form. Hearts were dispatched 4-1, Kilmarnock 5-0 and Partick Thistle 1-0.
FC Astana will be a tough task for the Scottish side. The side from Kazakhstan surprised a few when they beat Legia Warsaw 4-1 on aggregate in the last round, but if Celtic want to challenge in Europe, Astana is the type of side they must be beating.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Celtic -1.50 at 2.330
Napoli v Nice
Wednesday’s tie between the Italian and French side is sure to be one of the most entertaining of the Champions League play-offs. Maurizio Sarri’s Napoli side are a joy to watch, with their ambitious play and desire to play from the back making them an exciting outfit.
Sarri’s opponent, Lucien Favre, has surprised many since taking the reigns at Nice in 2016. He’s created an exciting young side and has even managed to tame Mario Balotelli. With the addition of Wesley Sneijder, Favre’s side has enough quality to threaten Sarri’s Napoli. Lots will rest on the future of star man Jean Michaël Séri, who has been linked to Liverpool.
Expect a tightly fought game, in which Nice could surprise their Italian opponents.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Nice 1.00 at 2.900
Istanbul Basaksehir v Sevilla
The story of Istanbul Basaksehir is one of Europe’s great rags to riches stories. Up to two years ago, the side from the Turkish capital had just 100 fans attend their matches, but now they’ve qualified for the Champions League and look set to give their bigger rivals a challenge again in the league.
For Sevilla, this off-season has been one of transition. Legendary Director of Football Monchi left the club and Argentine Eduardo Berizzo replaced countryman Jorge Sampaoli, who took the reigns of the Argentine national side. They’ve recruited well, bringing in the likes of Simon Kjaer, Nolito, and Sebastien Corchia, as well as seeing the likes of Jesus Navas and Ever Banega return to the club. It’s yet to be seen how Sevilla will adjust to life post-Monchi and remain untested under Berizzo.
That said, they are a much stronger side than their Turkish opposition. Anything can happen in the Champions League, but I’d expect Sevilla to come out on top in Istanbul.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Sevilla -0.75 at 2.660
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