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Slavia can grab advantage

Slavia can grab advantage

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The Champions League play-off first-leg ties take place this week in the final round of qualifiers for Europe’s top competition.

Cluj took advantage of Celtic’s defensive frailties last week but Slavia Prague’s defence is unlikely to be so kind when the pair meet in Romania on Tuesday.

Slavia made the quarter-finals of the Europa League last season, beating the likes of Zenit, Bordeaux and Sevilla along the way and they’ve started this term brightly too, collecting 16 points from their opening six league games.

Slavia Prague to win @ 8/5

Slavia did lose some players on the back of their EL run, notably centre-back Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui to Gent, but Romania international Nicolae Stanciu is a notable addition to the squad.

Despite a reshuffle at the back, they’ve still conceded only one goal in those six games and that solid base can help thwart their hosts.

Having won away to Copenhagen and Genk last season, Slavia can repeat the trick here and put one foot in the group stage. They are 8/5 for the first-leg win.

Young Boys to win @ 4/5

Wednesday’s play-off matches include Young Boys v Red Star Belgrade and the Swiss outfit can claim a first-leg lead on their artificial pitch.

This is Red Star’s fourth tie in the competition. They’ve scraped past Suduva and Helsinki by a single goal before edging out Copenhagen on penalties following a rearguard performance.

That followed Nemanja Milunovic’s red card and Dusan Jovancic is also suspended for this game.

With four wins and a draw in their first domestic games so far, Young Boys can build an early advantage in the tie.

Both teams to score in Olympiacos v Krasnodar @ 1/1

Fresh from knocking Porto out in the last round, Krasnodar could be a spot of value for those seeking a bigger price – they are 14/5 to win away to Olympiacos.

However, a better bet looks to be both teams to score at evens.

Krasnodar are attack-minded and showed that by winning 3-2 in Portugal last week.

They’ve also drawn 1-1 away to domestic title rivals Zenit, as well as beating Ufa 3-2 on the road.

Olympiacos are yet to concede in four games this season (all in this competition) but the level of opposition is about to rise and with the Greeks having yet to begin their domestic campaign and still early in their season, they can lose that record here.

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Warren Ashurst Warren has been a sports journalist for over 25 years, both written and broadcast. Having worked as a radio commentator, he has a wealth of experience of seeing top-level sport first hand and specialises in football, golf and cricket.

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