SO close to a big double last night, Chris Graham (@chrisgraham79) returns with more Champions League thoughts on Wednesday’s games.
APOEL Nicosia v Astana | Wednesday 19:45 | BT Sport Extra
Last night was tough on a number of levels (hey I’m Scottish) but being so close to a big Champions League double was certainly right up there. I’ll be more conservative tonight and hopefully get my rewards.
First up I like APOEL Nicosia to beat Astana. I’ve backed APOEL more than most sides in the Champions League and made some nice profit from them last season via the handicap route.
They were bunched in a group with Barcelona and PSG and went off double figures when clashing with those super powers. The Cypriot side also lost by one goal at the Nou Camp and Parc des Princes showing a real determination in the process.
This season’s competition has been a bit of a slog but the qualification line is almost in sight now. An away goals victory over Macedonian side Vardar two rounds ago was replicated in the next round against tougher outfit Midtjylland.
Kazakhstan side Astana are their play-off opponents and APOEL were unlucky to lose the first leg on foreign soil 1-0. The Cypriots had 61% possession, more corners and had Astana’s backs against the wall during the late throes of the match.
Astana failed to beat Maribor and HJK Helsinki away in previous rounds and in fact didn’t even score a goal. I think APOEL will have too much for them here and will back them at odds against.
Partizan Belgrade v BATE Borisov | Wednesday 19:45 | BT Sport Extra
This game is on an absolute knife-edge after BATE’s 1-0 home win last week. It mightn’t be a pretty game to watch but I expect it to be fascinating.
Partizan left Belarus last week with a lot of credit. They played the whole of the second half with 10 men and looked like escaping with a 0-0 draw. But it was not to be as Mikhail Gordeichuk’s 75th minute header gave them a task on their hands here.
Without an away goal Partizan look vulnerable and you’d imagine they’ll try and keep it tight in the initial stages. BATE will be keen to protect their lead and casually look for opportunities to punish Partizan further.
These sides have played 10 Champions League games between them this season and eight of them have gone Under 2.5 Goals. BATE have scored just one goal away from home over their two road trips.
It was a similar story last season for BATE who mustered just two away goals in their three qualifying ties. In the group stage they managed none at all.
On the other side of the pitch though they deserve huge credit. Incredibly it’s five years since BATE conceded more than one away goal in a Champions League qualifier. Their last 12 away qualifiers have all gone Under 2.5 Goals but they did score in seven of them.
Eight of the 12 went Under 1.5 Goals and that’s the bet I’ll put up here at odds of 7/4 with 888 Sport.
APOEL Nicosia v Astana – APOEL Nicosia to win (11/10 888 Sport)
Partizan Belgrade v BATE Borisov – Under 1.5 Goals (7/4 888 Sport)
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