THE Third Qualifying Round of the Champions League begins on Tuesday. Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) shares his thoughts.
FC Midtjylland v APOEL Nicosia | Tuesday 18:00
Danish champions FC Midtjylland are very much the hipsters choice at the moment. Brentford owner Matthew Benham has an interest in the club and they deploy an analytical, data business model that he has pushed through at the West London club. Guardian writers are gushing about them and no doubt bearded double-denim clad boys from Dalston are wearing their shirts.
Being cool and trendy is a good thing but if you’re priced up too short no one gives a toss about you. In my opinion Midtjylland are too short on Tuesday at odds of 20/19.
The Danish side have never gone past this stage of any European competition and were spanked 6-2 on aggregate by Panathinaikos in their only European tie last season.
This season in the previous round they very much laboured to a win over Gibraltar champions Lincoln Red Imps. The tie finished 3-0 on aggregate but they really ought to beat teams like that with much more authority.
APOEL Nicosia are 17/5 to win this tie and that looks too big. This is a far more experienced side than the Danes, they reached the group stages of the competition last season. The Cypriots gave Barcelona and Paris St Germain a tough time in their back garden and drew with Ajax at home also in the group.
It’s true that APOEL were unconvincing in the previous round also. They edged past Macedonian champions Vardar on away goals but should come on for that. I’l back them +1 at 4/5 with Bet365.
FC Milsami v Skenderbeu | Tuesday 18:00
It’s a lovely story that one of these brilliant-sounding minnows will reach the play-off round of the Champions League and guarantee themselves at least a place in the Europa League group stages. Now I’ll stop being patronising and focus on the game.
Moldovan side FC Milsami produced heroics in the previous round when they knocked out last season’s group participants Ludogorets. There was no sign of a fluke either as Milsami won both legs.
Albanian side Skenderbeu also found it comfortable in the previous round with the dismissal of Northern Irish outfit Crusaders. Skenderbeu won the first leg 4-1 in Albania before losing 3-2 in Belfast.
It’s the Both Teams To Score bet that’s caught my eye. It’s been priced up at 6/5 by Coral and I’ll have some of that. Yes, there’s a hell of a lot at stake in this tie but neither side did their chances any harm by playing on the front foot in the last round eh?
Six goals for Skenderbeu and a notch in both ties for FC Milsami in the previous round. I’m expecting more of the same here and I’m happy to back BTTS at 6/5.
FC Midtjylland v APOEL Nicosia – APOEL Nicosia +1 (4/5 Bet365)
FC Milsami v Skenderbeu – Both Teams To Score (6/5 Coral)