CHRIS Graham (@chrisgraham79) casts his eye over Tuesday’s Champions League matches. Where’s the value Chris?
Dinamo Zagreb v Skenderbeu | Tuesday 19:45 | BT Sport Extra
I felt really sorry for Skenderbeu in the opening leg last week. The Albanian side led the match for a long period before Zagreb equalised in the 66th minute, then desperate to hold on they conceded in the 93rd minute to go down 2-1.
That late goal by the Croats has almost certainly killed off Skenderbeu’s qualification hopes but I expect them to put up a fight on Tuesday night in Zagreb.
The Albanian’s have had an excellent run in this competition and smashed 10 goals past Crusaders and Milsami in the previous two rounds. This is the furthest they’ve ever gone in the Champions League and I can’t see them meekly throwing in the towel on Tuesday.
You many think neither of these sides are strong opposition but it’s worth pointing out that Milsami knocked Ludogorets out in the previous round and drew with St Etienne in the Europa League last week.
There’s definitely a case to suggest that Zagreb deserved their win in Albania last week and of course they should be too strong on home turf. Will they settle for a narrow aggregate win or play their game again? I very much hope the latter.
Skenderbeu have scored in all five of their Champions League matches this season and in their last eight competitive games overall. I think with Zagreb hopefully playing a forceful game opportunities will arise and they’ll be able to score.
Overall I expect Dinamo to be too strong on the night (odds of 1/4 may look fair come the final whistle) but I’m banking on Skenderbeu scoring so I’ll back Zagreb to win and both teams to score at a chunky 13/5 with Betfair.
Shakhtar Donetsk v Rapid Vienna | Tuesday 19:45
Just one goal in the opening leg between these sides but I expect more here. Shakhtar put on a defensive masterclass last week when thwarting Rapid Vienna and the Austrian’s are now on the brink of elimination.
Rapid’s defeat last week was their first on home soil since November of last year. They battled and fought their way throughout the match but ultimately just came up short as Shakhtar held them at bay.
A similar low scoring match this week is where the value is but I’m anticipating Rapid having a real go. This is a side who had a poor start to last year’s campaign but ended up losing just one league game from the end of November to the season’s close. They finished in second place six points behind Red Bull Salzburg, but the six defeats in the opening three months of the season really were the killer for them.
They’ve started this season off well with five wins from their six games and they look a team on the up. The chance to play in the group stages would be a huge achievement for this club so I can see them having a real go here.
In the previous round they were 2-0 down to Ajax in their home leg before pulling it back to 2-2. More impressively in the away leg they won 3-2 to knock out the Dutch superstars. They won’t go down without a scrap.
Shakhtar should be too strong for them though. They showed their class and experience last week by shutting out Rapid and having been in the Champions League group stages the last five years they should be too savvy here.
Donetsk held Bayern Munich at home in February in the Last 16 of last season’s competition and that level of form should be too strong for Rapid. I believe the Austrians will make this a great match though so I’ll back both teams to score in a Shakhtar win.
Dinamo Zagreb v Skenderbeu – Dinamo Zagreb to win and both teams to score (13/5 Betfair)
Shakhtar Donetsk v Rapid Vienna – Shakhtar Donetsk to win and both teams to score (9/4 Bet365)