The Champions League first qualifying round draws to a close this week as the long road to the group stages rolls on. In terms of British and Irish sides, Celtic are well placed to qualify but Dundalk and Linfield face uphill battles if they are to move on.
Linfield travel to Norway looking to overturn a 2-0 deficit, having been outclassed by Rosenborg in the first leg at Windsor Park. The Blues found it tough just to get a shot on target in Belfast with David Healy‘s part-timers finding the pace too much to handle in their first competitive game of the new season.
Rosenborg have hit their stride after a stuttering start to the campaign and followed up their win over Linfield by thrashing rivals Viking 5-1 in the Norwegian top flight at the weekend. Eirik Horneland‘s men have won nine of the last 11 games and even playing in second gear they should keep the Northern Irish champions at arm’s length.
Linfield haven’t scored an away goal in Champions League qualifying in nine years so another easy Rosenborg win to zero looks the most likely outcome on Wednesday evening.
Kazak champions Astana hold a 1-0 lead ahead of their clash with CFR Cluj and have enough experience to protect that lead in Romania. The Blue and Yellows are fast becoming experienced European campaigners, just missing out on qualification for the Europa League knockout stage last season.
Astana lost three of seven away matches in Europe in the 2018/19 campaign, digging in to hold Dynamo Kiev and FC Midtylland.
Cluj’s record at home will hardly worry Astana either, losing to Malmo at this stage of Champions League qualification last season before Dudelange came out on top at the Dr. Constantin Rădulescu Stadium in the Europa League.
The Romanians failed to register a shot on target last week and could be in for a frustrating night against Astana.
Celtic bounced back well to falling behind early on in Bosnia last week as they wrapped up a straight-forward 3-1 win, giving them one foot in the next round of qualifying. FK Sarajevo made the Hoops work hard for their success but having been beaten on home soil, they could throw in the towel as they did against Atalanta last season. FK Sarajevo were beaten 8-0 by the Italians in the away leg of their Europa League qualifying tie and Celtic should fancy their chances of racking up a sizeable win at Parkhead en route to round two.
For all new customers, ComeOn are currently offering a £10 free bet – make sure you sign up!