CHRIS Graham (@chrisgraham79) has taken a look at Wednesday’s Champions League fixtures and shared his best bets.
Club Brugge v Panathinaikos | Wednesday 19:30
I’m still trying to recover from Tuesday’s results in truth. APOEL Nicosia failing to score against Midtjylland was then made a lot worse by Ajax losing at home to Rapid Vienna and going out the Champions League. Incredible when you think they were 2-0 up away from home in the opening leg. So confidence isn’t exactly fulsome as I look at Wednesday’s second leg fixtures.
First up is the match between Club Brugge and Panathinaikos. The first leg of this match in Greece finished 2-1 to the home side but in many ways that flattered Pana. The Belgians took the lead early on and dominated possession and the corner count.
Club Brugge had their best year in Europe for a long time last season as they went on a long unbeaten run to the Europa League Quarter-Finals. They eventually succumbed to runners-up Dnipro in the quarter-finals but not before winning a group involving Torino, FC Copenhagen and HJK Helsinki.
Crucially they remained unbeaten at home in Europe throughout their endeavours last season and that experience will surely have put them in good stead for this challenge.
Panathinaikos on the other hand had a disappointing Europa campaign. They failed to win any of their group matches and picked up just two points from 18 in a group involving Dynamo Moscow, PSV and Estoril.
If we compare those two performances and the unlucky nature of Brugge’s defeat last week then I think the Belgians can progress here. They’re 20/23 to win the match but a much healthier 5/4 to qualify. They already have the away goal so that could be the key factor.
Skenderbeu v Milsami | Wednesday 19:45
Skenderbeu put one foot in the Champions League play-off round last week when they beat Milsami 2-0 in Moldova. My gut feel was that Milsami had just hit the glass ceiling.
The Moldovan’s had defied rather large odds in knocking out last year’s darlings Ludogorets in the previous round and bookmakers gave them every chance in the opening leg but it was not to be.
Skenderbeu boast a better record in Europe than their opponents and in the last couple of season have beaten Shakhter Karagandy and drew with BATE Borisov at home. In the previous round they tore apart Crusaders 4-1 in Albania.
Unbeaten in six in Europe on home turf and no defeat since August 2011 is mightily impressive. Of course it’s always a danger backing a side who are 2-0 up from the first leg (stakes should be small of course) but hopefully they can use that victory to further pummel Milsami.
Skenderbeu’s win in Bulgaria against Ludogorets was their first ever away win in Europe and they might just be out of their depth as they bid farewell to the Champions League.