Champions League qualifying preview: final round before group stage set to get underway

The likes of Dynamo Kiev, Red Star and Benfica all face the knock-out rounds this week


The UEFA Champions League is the biggest club football competition on the planet. And, this week, we will see the first leg game from the final qualifying phase prior to the group stage kicking off in September.

Giants of the world game, including a mouth-watering clash between Benfica and Fenerbache, are all set to take place on Tuesday evening (7 August). With so much as stake so early on in many domestic European campaigns, it is imperative to hit the ground running.

First things first

Before you go any further, head on over to the Oddsshark website, find your favourite betting agency and get your account up and running using your credit card. As a new customer and with the UEFA Champions League group phase just a few short weeks away, there should be several offers and promotions available to you.

Where should I be investing my money?

The first tie of interest this Tuesday sees Slavia Prague take on Dynamo Kiev. The Prague side have certainly started their national championship on the front foot and sit top of the pile with a 100 per cent record after the opening three rounds.

Dynamo, however, have made an identical start to their own domestic league campaign – three wins from three and this could well be a close one to call. Given they have home advantage, it is Slavia Prague who come in as the slight favourites to pick up the win at a price of 2.45, according to Oddsshark.

However, if you think that dynamo can pick up an away victory then you can back them to do so at 3.00. A draw is priced slightly higher at 3.10.

Also in action on Tuesday is Belgian outfit Standard Liege, who welcome giants of the European game Ajax. Standard have already kicked off their Belgian Pro League season and have made a solid start, picking up four points from their opening two games.

Ajax, by way of comparison, are yet to start their Eredivisie season and as such may come into this game without the same match rhythm as their opponents. However, it should also be pointed out that Ajax have already made it through the second qualifying round of this season’s Champions League competition, so will not come into this game completely undercooked.

And it is Ajax who, on paper at least, look the stronger technical side and will come into this first leg tie as the favourites to take an advantage into the second leg. You can more than double your money by backing the Dutch outfit to pick up a win on the road at a price of 2.15.

Despite playing in front of their own fans in this tie, Standard are all the way ou8t at 3.40 to collect a much needed first leg advantage, with a draw priced slightly lower at 3.30. Standard’s best chance of a result may well be a stalemate however, and while it is never easy trying to predict exact scores, a 1-1 draw is priced at 6.00, which means a US$5 bet would lead to a US$30 pay out.

However, there is no doubt as to the biggest game of the night as Portuguese club Benfica host Turkish giants Fenerbache. This has the potential to be one for the annals with neither side expecting to miss out on the lucrative group stages of Europe’s premier club competition.

Benfica finished second in the Primeira Liga last season, finishing seven points behind eventual winners Porto. Fenerbache were also runners up in the Super Lig, finishing the season just three points off Galatasaray in first place, and now one will see their European adventure cut short as a result.

Fenerbache, however, have not played a competitive fixture since 10 May, when they lost 3-2 to Akhisar, and there is a very real concern that they will take some time to find their feet in such a crucial encounter. The side will need to hit the ground running and that can be a tough ask in such trying circumstances.

And it is Benfica who come into this game as the clear favourites to take an advantage into the second leg. You can back the Portuguese to open an advantage at a price of just 1.55, while Fenerbache are all the way out at 6.00 and a draw is also high at 3.90 – a comfortable, 2-0 win for Benfica is priced competitively at 6.50.

UEFA Champions League Third Qualifying round (leg 1 of 2):

(2.10) FC Astana x Dinamo Zagreb (3.75); draw (3.10)

(2.00) FK Qarabag x BATE (4.00); draw (3.20)

(1.44) Malmo x MOL (7.50); draw (4.20)

(2.45) Slavia Prague x Dynamo Kiev (3.00); draw (3.10)

(3.40) Standard Liege x Ajax (2.15); draw (3.30)

(1.28) Red Star x Spartak Trnava (12.00); draw (5.00)

(1.55) Benfica x Fenerbache (6.00); draw (3.90)