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Following a 1-1 draw in Germany last week, Huub Stevens' men will fancy their chances of progressing but Willie Duncan is backing the away side to make the group stages

PAOK Salonika are aiming to qualify for the Champions League group stages for the first time when they play host to German side Schalke in the playoff second leg on Tuesday.

The first leg in Germany ended all square and, with both sides knowing that victory will see them progress to the next round of the competition, it is set to be a fiercely competitive clash at Toumba Stadium.

The atmosphere, though, will be somewhat surreal as the return leg is being played behind closed doors as the hosts are currently serving a three-match supporter ban following crowd trouble during a Europa League tie last season.

Despite their valiant effort in Germany, the hosts are chalked up as a 21/10 (3.10) quote with William Hill to win the tie in Greece while the Bundesliga side are priced up as 11/8 (2.63) favourites with the same firm to emerge victorious. The draw is rated as an 11/5 (3.20) chance with William Hill.

Schalke will, once again, be deprived of the services of star striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Jens Keller’s side will be hoping that they are not forced to rue the chances that they passed up during last week’s first-leg encounter.

Shot-shy S04 slipped to defeat against Hanover at the weekend and will be fearful that a lack of firepower could prove costly against Huub Stevens’ side.

However, PAOK also suffered domestic defeat at the weekend and, with the nerves sure to be jangling with a place in the group stages of the Champions League at stake, it is likely to be a tight encounter on Tuesday.

With that in mind, the 7/10 (1.70) quote from William Hill for fewer than three goals to be scored, whilst short, looks to be a solid selection here while the 9/5 (2.80) quote from William Hill for the first half to remain goalless also looks to be a decent bet.

Despite the absence of Huntelaar, Schalke should have too much nous for their inexperienced opponents and, therefore, there is value to be had in backing Coral’s generous 100/30 (4.33) quote for Schalke to win a match featuring fewer than three goals.

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  Schalke to win and under 2.5 goals at 100/30 (4.33) 1pt with William Hill

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Willie Duncan is a freelance sports journalist. Willie, from Edinburgh, has covered Scottish football for over 10 years and he specialises in football betting markets from across Europe. You can also follow Willie on Twitter

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