Things to look out for in Champions League Qualifiers: July 30-31

 

Celtic have probably wrapped up their tie, Basel and PSV look to serve up another thriller, while a Welsh side are looking to produce an underdog story in the second qualifying round of the Champions League. Here are some of the things to look out for in qualifying. Bet on the UCL here. 

Formality for Celtic

Scottish champions Celtic registered a dominant 5-0 first-leg win over Estonian side JK Nomme Kalju. The Scots generally outclassed the hosts and barring any miracles, Celtic should get it done on Tuesday. The Hoops will take confidence in that performance as they prepare for the domestic season to kick-off. Moreover, they’re looking to build momentum which could help them banish last season’s failure to qualify for Europe’s premier competition. After last week’s disappointment, Kalju will be hoping to do better, though they will need to do something special to beat Celtic. In the previous round, the Estonians also lost at home, something which doesn’t bode well for them on Tuesday night.

Goals galore at Basel v PSV

Fans were treated to a thriller in the first leg of this tie, which ended 3-2 in favour of PSV. In that tie, Mark Van Bommel’s side got the narrow one-goal advantage, but Basel got two valuable away goals that could decide this fixture in the second leg. Therefore, the Swiss will fancy themselves in front of their home crowd. Even so, PSV dominated the proceedings and Basel were lucky not to concede more. The host's defence was not as dominant as they would have liked, which made things hard for Marcel Koller’s men. PSV created chances at will and will definitely do the same at St. Jakob-Park.

Another cagey encounter between Olympiakos and Plzen?

Olympiakos v Viktoria Plzen is beautifully poised following a nervy 0-0 draw in the first leg. Last week’s encounter was cagey and lacked adventure from both sides. Should we expect the same in the second leg? The visitors did well to avoid conceding a goal away from home and will be confident of their chances. Their uninspiring effort in front of their packed home fans suggests that they’ll have to do more to get something in Greece. The Czech side were not only disappointing at home last week, but they have not had much success in the Champions League qualifying, as they’ve won just one of their four away qualifiers since 2015. Olympiakos have been solid at home, losing just once in qualifying in the last four. However, they have won only one of those. Therefore, we could be in for another tense and cagey affair.

Can Ferencváros get to the group stage?

Ferencavros is the most successful team in Hungarian football history, with a total of 31 league titles. However, this time, they face some of the best teams from Europe. In the first leg against Maltese outfit Valleta, they comfortably won 3-1 and are looking to finish the job away from home. The last time they reached the third qualifying round was in 2004. This is a big deal to them. Can they do it? Valletta have been poor in the qualifying stages in recent years. They’ve won just once since 2012. Can they upset the Hungarians in front of their home crowd?

Another upset by New Saints?

Welsh side The New Saints face an uphill battle to beat Danish side FC Copenhagen away from home. They produced a disappointing performance in the first leg, losing 2-0 to the Danes. However, the Saints are not new to this. In last season’s first qualifying round, they lost 5-0 to Macedonian side Shkendija in the first leg. In the second leg, they almost produced the unthinkable, as they won 4-0, falling just short. Can they do it this time? They will have a huge mountain to climb in Denmark, but as an underdog, they should fancy themselves.