FC Astana v Celtic (Agg 0-5)
Whilst Celtic have been dominant domestically for a number of years, the criticism has largely been of their record in European football. Last season, despite earning two respectable draws against Manchester City in the group stage, Celtic failed to register a win.
Last week’s qualifying round thumping of FC Astana may signal that Brendan Rodgers has gone some way to rectify Celtic’s European woes. Goals from Scott Sinclair (2), James Forrest and two Astana own goals gave Celtic a 5-0 win to take the away tie.
On Saturday, Rodgers rested some key men, including Sinclair, Leigh Griffiths, and Nir Bitton, suggesting that Brendan Rodgers does not want to take his 5-0 aggregate lead for granted.
The first tie would suggest he can breathe a sigh of relief, though. Whilst FC Astana were disciplined in the first half, they failed to create any real chances. They managed just 2 shots on target all game and I can’t imagine they’ll improve much in this second leg, despite playing at home.
Stranger things have happened in the Champions League, but I fully expect Celtic to have too much for Kazakh champions Astana once more.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Celtic -0.50 at 2.660
Nice v Napoli (Agg 0-2)
Lucien Favre will have been disappointed with how his Nice side played in their first-leg away tie against Napoli. They were dominated all over the pitch and managed zero shots on target throughout the 90 minutes. Favre will also be disappointed with his team’s discipline in Naples, with Alassane Pléa and Vincent Koziello both picking up red cards in the 79th minute of the tie.
Nice’s key man Jean Michaël Seri has been included in the squad for the second leg of this Champions League play-off tie, but with rumors, Barcelona have met his £36 million release clause, it remains to be seen whether he will feature at the Allianz Riviera. His absence would be a huge blow.
For Napoli, manager Maurizio Sarri will be delighted with both how his team played against Nice, but also their opening Serie A win against Verona. Sarri’s men were rampant on the weekend, winning 3-1 thanks to goals from Arkadiusz Milik and Faouzi Ghoulam, as well as a Verona own goal.
It won’t be easy for Napoli – Nice is a good side under Favre – but Sarri’s men should have enough to see the game through and secure a spot in the Group Stages.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Napoli -1.0 at 2.500
Sevilla v Istanbul Basaksehir (Agg 2-1)
In last week’s preview of the first leg, I said that anything could happen in the Champions League, but I’d expect Sevilla to come out on top.
That statement was not far off an accurate prediction of what was to come in Istanbul. Sevilla took an early lead, thanks to Sergio Escudero’s 13th-minute strike. Istanbul Basaksehir, though, struck back early in the second half when Eljero Elia hit home.
It took a late Wissam Ben Yedder goal to secure the away win for Sevilla and manager Eduardo Berizzo will be relieved that they head home with a slight advantage.
Istanbul’s threat to Sevilla will have been a surprise to many, so it’ll be interesting to see how this second tie plays out. It’ll be tough to travel to Seville, but Istanbul has proved that they can be dangerous.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Istanbul Basaksehir 0.75 at 2.610
Contact us directly if you want to place your bets based on the above picks.
Join Eastbridge Soccer Betting Broker for the best prices and highest liquidity in the UEFA Champions League.