UEFA Champions League qualifying preview: third round kicks off this Tuesday, 7 August

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Michael Steele
No fewer than seven first leg ties set to take place, with Benfica v Fenerbache the pick of the action

The third and final qualifying round for the UEFA Champions League – Europe’s premier club competition – is set to get underway this coming Tuesday night (7 August). In total there will be seven first leg ties played on the evening with the lucrative group stages of the continental competition within touching distance.

While former European champions Ajax will be in action, there is little doubt as to which is the tastiest of the Tuesday ties. Benfica and Fenerbache are set to meet in Portugal with only one being able to progress in the tournament.

Getting the ball rolling

First things first, swing by the Oddsshark website, procure your favourite betting agency and sort out your very own account with a username and password. As a brand new customer and with the UEFA Champions League group stage set to kick off in September, there should be a whole host of promotions and offers available to you.

Where should I be investing my money?

First up, FC Astana of Kazakhstan will meet Croatian club Dinamo Zagreb at the Astana Arena. This looks to be one of the more intriguing ties in the third qualifying round.

Astana come into this game as the slight favourites having finished top of their national league championship in the previous campaign. You can back FC Astana at 2.10 to pick up a vital win in this first leg.

Dinamo, meanwhile have played just two games in the top tier of the Croatian domestic pyramid and have picked up four points in those matches. You could almost quadruple your money by backing Dinamo to record a win on the road at 3.75, with a draw priced at 3.10 – a 1-0 win for visitors looks worth backing at 8.00, according to Oddsshark.

Another tie of interest sees FK Qarabag welcome BATE Borisov to the Tofiq Bahramov Stadium in Baku. This could well be a tight clash between two sides who look to be evenly matched, on paper at least.

Qarabag have already made it through two qualifying rounds just to reach this stage of the competition. The club from Azerbaijan edged past Olimpija NK before comprehensively dispatching Kukesi 3-0 – BATE, however, will offer a far sterner challenge over the course of two legs.

The Belarusian club sit comfortably top of their national championship, seven points ahead of Dinamo Minsk in second place, and can come into this game confident of an away victory. However it is Qarabag who come into the game as the favourites to take an advantage into the return encounter.

You can double your money by backing the home side to pick up a win at 2.00. Meanwhile, BATE are out at 4.00 to collect a victory on the road, which looks worth betting on, with a draw priced in the middle at 3,20 – a 1-0 win for BATE is priced competitively at 8.50.

The most highly anticipated game of the night will most certainly be Benfica v Fenerbache, however. Both sides finished as runners up in their respective national league campaigns in the previous season, and neither will take too kindly to missing out on the group stages of the UEFA Champions League.

One thing we may well see is goals in this one. The Portuguese club have scored over 1.5 goals in seven of their last 10 games, while Fenerbache have managed that feat in their last 10 outings – with home advantage, however, the impetus will be on Benfica to start this game on the front foot and ensure some sort of advantage prior to the second leg.

And it is Benfica who come into the match as the red hot favourites to pick up the victory. You can back the Portuguese to pick up the win at just 1.55, while Fenerbache are much further out at 6.00.

A draw is priced somewhat highly as well at 3.90. However, you could potentially more than double your money by backing goals in the game – over 2.5 goals in the match is priced at 2.10, while under 2.5 goals is slightly lower at 1.70.

Both teams to score is also a potential money doubler at 2.20, with “No” to that particular outcome again coming in shorter at 1.66 Both these teams like to play on the front foot, however, and there should be plenty of goalmouth action – while it is never easy trying to predict exact score lines, a 2-1 win for Benfica is priced at 9.00, offering close to a ten-fold return on any investment.

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)

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