Qarabag v APOEL Nicosia
I’m keen to oppose goals in one of the more unfashionable games in the early kick offs between Qarabag and APOEL. It’s two nations not particularly famous for footballing exploits in Azerbaijan and Cyprus; it must be a challenge for bookmakers to try and get a hold of the difference in quality between the pair. The odds suggest Qarabag are a slightly better side and I’d tend to agree with that thought process and 2.150 on the hosts do look fair to me. That being said I’m much more inclined to take the 1.810 on under 2.5 goals.
Funnily enough these two met in the qualifying for the Champions League in the summer and APOEL actually won the tie but eventually we’re denied a place in the top tier European competition by Ajax. Qarabag won the first leg in the Cypriot capital 2-1 but went down 2-0 in the home leg to many peoples surprise. Away from home APOEL do set up in a defensive formation and that’s what Qarabag face week in week out in their native league and they tend to struggle to break teams down, well they rarely thrash teams, 1-0 and 2-0 are regular scorelines for ‘The Horsemen’.
APOEL managed to hold Sevilla to just a 1-0 win which showcases their defensive resolve. They managed a clean sheet against Ajax too so they’ve kept it tight against better teams than the Azerbaijani champions. Their last three games have seen under 2.5 cop and three of the last four Qarabag games have also seen this bet profit.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Under 2.50 goals at 1.810
Saint Etienne v Oleksandria
I was surprised by the goal line in this game as hosts Saint Etienne tend to be a team involved in tight, dour games. We backed the under 2.5 line when they hosted Wolfsburg in Matchday 2 and that landed, we’re getting a higher line here even though the visitors don’t pose as much of an attacking threat as the Germans.
Claude Puel is the new man in at the Stade Geoffrey Guichard, a controversial choice given his history as manager of fierce rivals Lyon. However he has done good things in Ligue 1 if not to everyone’s taste in the premier league, his sides tend to be more defensive than most and that’s been seen with back to back 1-0 successes over Lyon and Bordeaux.
Loic Perrin is the glue that holds the backline together, his experience is invaluable for Les Verts and since William Saliba has come back on loan from Arsenal they’ve formed a formidable partnership at the back. He’s also helping 18 year old defender Wesley Fofana improve and he made the grade for the last game. When he’s out Mathieu Debuchy can slot in on the right side of a back 3. It’s proven an impenetrable trio.
Visitors Oleksandria are debuting in this competition. Sure, Shakhtar Donetsk and Dynamo Kiev are mainstays on the European scene but the alternative side usually changes year on year. We’ve had Vorskla Poltava last year who weren’t so successful but Zorya Luhansk and Dnipro have both upset the applecart and done better than expected. Six of their last eight games in all competitions have seen fewer than three goals and they would be delighted if they can get a point here.
I’d expect the visitors to let the hosts have plenty of the ball but that’s not really where Saint Etienne thrive, they themselves prefer to play without the ball and it could be a game sorely lacking in creativity. Saint have seen their last five see 2 goals or fewer, 1 or fewer goals has been scored in four of those five too. With that in mind, opposing a goal heavy game is the way to go in the Loire region on Thursday evening.
Asian Total Goals Betting Recommendation: Under 2.75 goals at 1.925
CSKA Moscow v Ferencvaros
This has to be a must win for CSKA Moscow after back-to-back defeats in the UEL. A 5-0 chastening away at Ludogorets will have shocked the CSKA faithful but they were with 10 men for that game, a 2-0 reverse against Espanyol wasn’t the ideal response either so it places a lot more pressure on a win here.
They should have too much against this Ferencvaros team though, the Hungarians haven’t been in Europe for a while and they lost out to Ludogorets too 3-0. They rode their luck a little on matchday 1 at Espanyol too where they scraped a draw. I highly doubt they’ll qualify from this group and they face a long trip to the Russian capital in search of their first win.
CSKA youthful midfield trio of Ivan Oblyakov, Ilzat Akhmetov and Nikola Vlasic have impressed this season and their dynamism will be key for the hosts. There’s a youthful look about this side going forward, Fedor Chalov is and has been the chief goalgetter in recent years, it feels like he’s been about forever but he’s still only 21. Strike partner Arnor Sigurdsson is only 20 years old too, I’m sure they’ll want to make their mark on the continental stage to try and gain some admiring glances.
The ‘Armeitsy’ are around 1.500 to win this one which isn’t too surprising given their opponents but we can get 1.900 on the hosts with a -1 start on the asian handicap and that looks worth a play. As long as they win we don’t lose anything, if Moscow win by a single goal then we get our stakes back, any other win for the home side and we take a full profit.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: CSKA Moscow -1.00 at 1.900