Tuesday 20th July, Champions League Predictions
Zagreb vs Omonia
The hosts are the big favourites for this one at 1.33. Pretty clear to see why when you look at the quality of their squad.
A front 3 of Mislav Orsic, Mario Gavranovic and Bruno Petkovic is as good as it gets at this stage of the competition. I was seriously impressed by Gavranovic at the Euros as he impressed for Switzerland, bagging that excellent last gasp equaliser that ultimately led to France being knocked out. Petkovic & Orsic also both featured for Croatia, the latter turned in one of the performances of the tournament when Zagreb knocked out Spurs last season.
There’s a gulf in class here and also couple that with Omonia’s disruption behind the scenes. They’ve effectively been evicted from their home stadium for failing to pay debts owed to the owners. Which isn’t ideal preparation for a tough trip to Croatia. They did manage to secure the Cypriot super cup last week but it did require an arduous extra time period to overcome Anorthosis on penalties.
Nothing really to shout about here. A Zagreb win looks as solid as you can get, 1.5 team goals also looks good at 1.57. That front 3 will be an absolute nightmare for the visitors.
Ferencvaros vs Zalgris
Another one where the odds fell most of the story here as the Hungarian giants host Lithuania’s top dogs.
Ferencvaros made it to the group stages last season (albeit finishing bottom) and also dumped Celtic out of this competition around 11 months ago with a stunning victory at Celtic Park. They also stormed their domestic league as they finished a full 20 points clear of their nearest competitors. They’re a very hard side to beat, their last defeat came back in February in the Hungarian Cup.
They’ve also recently added Kristoffer Zachariasson to the ranks, which looks an exceptional bit of business. He bagged 21 in 45 for Rosenborg, Stjepan Loncar has also joined for more midfield quality after turning out regularly for Rijeka.
Zalgris have nothing to lose and won’t fear trying to play football here. They’re a strong side domestically and they do have talent, you may recognise former Lazio midfielder Ogenyi Onazi. Ultimately I think they’ll be beaten here but they could cause problems.
Goals look a decent bet. Ferencvaros netted 69 times in 33 league games, over 1.5 team goals again looks decent at 1.4. Zalgiris are also top scorers in their domestic league, however, this is a considerable step up in the competition they face week on week. BTTS at 1.87 could be a decent selection but it is slightly more risky.
Rapid Vienna vs Sparta Prague
This is a really intriguing tie actually. Two pretty well matched sides meet here, reflected in the odds. 2.2 for a home win and 3.25 for the visitors. This is definitely a tricky one to call.
All the talk I’ve found of the hosts surrounds the loss of their star forward Yusuf Demir, who has joined Barcelona. Nicknamed of course ‘the Austrian Messi’ his departure is set to be a big loss for the Bundesliga runners up and will need addressing if they’re to have any hope of closing the gap to the hugely dominant RB Salzburg.
Sparta have kept hold of their own young starlet – Adam Hlozek. Who made the Euros squad for that terrific run from the Czech’s. He could follow a similar path of Demir but as of right now he’ll be leading the line for Sparta. The visitors haven’t had a competitive fixture since a cup defeat in May but have been smashing in the goals in pre season. 19 scored/conceded in their last 4 outings. That’s nothing new for them either, nobody averaged more goals per game in their league last season – they saw a massive 3.68 goals per game with a whopping 71% featuring over 2.5 goals.
Rapid also saw a goal-laden season, 3.21 goals per game and 62% seeing over 2.5 goals. Statistically, this looks like the standout tie for goals this evening. Over 2.5 goals looks a great price at 1.75. I’d have expected that to be closer to the 1.57 mark.
I do think there’s a bit of value in the visitors here, they’re actually favourites to qualify over the two legs. 1.57 double chance looks good for some safety, 3.25 for a win could prove to be huge but is of course risky.
Celtic vs Midtjylland
The first competitive game for Celtic’s new gaffer Ange Postecoglou. There’s also new management for the visitors who have been taken over by Bo Henriksen.
This is somewhat of a free for all from what I’ve dug up, there’s quite a bit of uncertainty on both sides and it’s pretty difficult to figure out exactly how each side will line up/approach this game as a result of them both starting new eras.
Celtic have used all 30 players in pre-season, many of which have played multiple different positions. Any positivity has also been overshadowed by the investigation into Leigh Griffiths – which he has since been cleared of any wrongdoing doing, however, the fans haven’t reacted well to the striker’s antics.
It’s unclear who makes the new manager’s best first eleven but the clammer is that French striker Odsonne Edouard won’t be the focal striker with Albian Ajeti likely to be preferred. That seems strange from an outside perspective given how good Edouard has been in Scotland.
Kristoffer Ajer and Olivier Ntcham have been excellent players for Celtic over recent years, both are out the squad as it looks likely that they head to pastures new.
From reading a Celtic fan forum there’s real concern down their right-hand side. They’ve not yet signed a right-back meaning their only option is Anthony Ralston. He’s very inexperienced and has only made a handful of Celtic appearances, getting his most minutes whilst on loan at St. Johnstone. He’ll face Pione Sisto who is one of the visitor’s star players, which could be a disaster if Ralston isn’t supported.
The visitors have just lost Nigerian midfielder Frank Onyeka, he’s moved to sister club Brentford. He’s a big loss in the middle of the park for both his ability and also physicality. They’ve also banned their star striker – Sory Kaba after he’s refused to play as he looks to force a move away from the club, far from ideal preparation.
More concern for Celtic has come about though after Postecoglou admitted the side ‘aren’t where he wants them to be’ in terms of fitness and also said that he feels they don’t currently have a strong squad and they’re lacking if they want to compete on all fronts.
Absolute minefield this game – I’d be very wary of backing Celtic particularly at odds on. Then again with the visitors own turmoil it’s hard to say if they’re actually a worthwhile bet. There are 9,000 fans in tonight for Celtic, but that reduction from a potential 20,000 has been described as a positive by the visiting manager.
I’d be avoiding any results here and maybe look for something safer, 1.5 goals is probably your best bet here, only 1.33 but it could make a useful addition to an acca.