After disappointing start and a 1:2 defeat in front of own fans against Nordsjaelland, players of Odense bounced back with much better performance in the second round when the team won on the road against newly promoted Helsingor last Monday evening with a 2:0 result. They were simply much more concrete, looked much more fluid in the midfield and generally way more mature on the field than their opponents were.
They took the lead in 24th minute via Jacobsen, stood well in the defense and weren’t threatened much, while the same player doubled up their lead in 54th minute, without having much of trouble reaching the victory till the end. Odense is surely now looking for another good performance as they surely want to reach the European exit this season and not to repeat mistakes from previous year. Home team should have no real injury worries ahead of this match.
Arka Gdynia actually didn’t have good season in the Ekstraklasa at all, as the team barely escaped the relegation in last round when they managed to win over Zaglebie on the road and end up the season with two points more than relegating placed Leczna, however they were a bit lucky, but also had good results in domestic Cup competition where they earned the European exit.
They won the Cup’s finale game against Lech Poznan celebrating 1:2 victory after extra time played back early in May – must be said that they played tactically well, but also that the players of Lech Poznan were much better and it simply wasn’t their day in the offensive part of the game. This season was opened in the best possible way, as the team won Super Cup game winning after penalties against Legia, once again being inferior but using their chances well. Esktraklasa started for them with a victory over Slask 2:0 at home and a point taken against newly promoted Sandecja last weekend in a goalless draw.
Midfielder Dominik Hofbauer (25/2 in previous season) and defender Antoni Lukasiwicz (26/1 in previous season) won’t be playing here due injuries.
Celtic didn’t have difficult task in the second qualifying round when the team won over Northern Irish side Linfield 6:0 on aggregate score, taking 2:0 victory away from home in the first leg and sealing the progress to the third round with convincing 4:0 victory last Wednesday evening.
They have opened the game in the best possible manner, with a goal in fourth minute by Sinclair already, being much more dominant during all ninety minutes, creating many chances and scoring three more in the second halftime, via Rogic in 48th, Sinclair again in 54th, while Armstrong sealed their victory in third minute of additional time. In between of two Champions League matches, they lost in friendly game against French side Lyon 0:4, but rested most of the important players and gave playing chance to more fringe ones. Their season is set to start in ten days, so the team is quite near to more competitive form.
In comparison to previous season, defender Boyata and forward Griffiths won’t be playing here, while doubtful are defender Svitachenko and forward Dembele.
Qarabag looked really well in second round against champions from Georgia Samtredia, as the side took highly convincing victory at home against them 5:0 in first leg, but also sealed the victory in second leg on the road with narrow 1:0 result. Only goal was scored in 22nd minute via Guerrier as the sides looked quite similar, however with the visitors staying somehow a bit better on the field, looking more mature and serious.
Team from Georgia had their chances as well, however were probably disappointed with the conceded goal and overall 6:0 result already after first third of the second leg. Qarabag looked very dominant in previous season, taking the champions crown with ten points more over second placed Gabala, but also taking the domestic Cup with a 2:0 result over the same opponent back in May. Midfielder Wilde-Donald Guerrier (Alanya), central defender Jakub Rzezniczak (Legia) and goalkeeper Anton Kanibolotsky (Shakhtar Donetsk) are biggest name that reinforced the club this Summer.
Dynamo Moscow had the thoughest possible opponent in the first round of Premier League, as the team hosted current champions from Spartak Moscow in a local derby game, but still managed to take a point from it in a 2:2 draw last Tuesday evening. It was generally quite a balanced game as the visitors looked better in the first halftime, but Dynamo responded well enough in the repetition.
Visitors took the lead in 29th minute via Promes and quickly doubled up the lead just three minutes later with a goal from Adriano, however as said, players of Dynamo were much more concrete in the second halftime and reduced the deficit in 53rd minute via Panchenko, to reach the equlizer a bit lucky, since it was in third minute of additional time via Tasheav, however needs to be said – it was deservedly after all.
Home team should be playing in 4-2-3-1 formation with Wanderson set as central striker, plus Ionov, Panchenko and Katrich most likely as offensive midfielders. Forward Fatos Beqiraj (1/0) has been struggling with a muscle injury and is doubtful for this one. Central defender Vitali Djakov has left the club to join Turkish side Sivasspor last week.
Krasnodar surprised many last weekend when the team managed to take a narrow victory away to Rubin Kazan following their 1:2 victory on Sunday evening. They had a great first halftime taking the double lead thanks to two goals from Laborde, scored in 17th and 33th minute, taking their lead deservedly and using their chances more than well.
Hosts tried to react in the second halftime and managed to reduce the deficit in 72nd minute via Lestienne, however without being able to make that extra push towards the equalizer. Krasnodar did simply what was needed in order to get the victory, being perfectly satisfied with the lead taken in first halftime and keeping the right score till the end.
Jagiellonia weren’t that much of a favorite in the first leg, however the team managed to walk away with a positive result away in Azerbaijan taking a 1:1 draw which surely is a decent result for them. Must be said that they actually impressed and were a better side, missing some decent chances to take the victory completely and await the second game in much more relaxed manner.
Visitors took the lead in 15h minute via Romanczuk and missed some decent chances in both half, while the opponent reacted in 47th minute but that didn’t discouraged much the guests who continued being very threatening. Jagiellonia did well to open the new Esktraklasa season with a narrow 1:0 victory on the road against Termalica B-B., with the only goal being scored from the penalty kick taken by Sekulski in 47th minute. Must be said, it was pretty defensive game from both sides, with the guests being just a bit more lucky and creative during the ninety minutes.
Defender Marek Wasiluk (6/0 in last season) is unavailable here due injury, same as midfielders Przemyslaw Frankowski (35/8 last season) and Rafal Grzyb (32/1).
Ernests Gulbis, my compatriot, a player with a great talent but the wrong attitude and lifestyle and many injuries. But now, after his recent comeback in French Open he seems to be more mature, he got married and he seems to be settled in life. He got a new coach who is working on his technique it specially on the forehand and it doesn’t produce so many errors.
De Greef is a young player who mainly plays on the challenger circuit, he enjoys playing on clay, it’s his favorite surface just like Gulbis. His serve is mediocre on clay court and it doesn’t give a lot of free points. He also doesn’t have any big shots that can hit winners constantly, he feels better in rallies and he also mixes up his game well with drop shots every now and then.
Molde are coming from their great 0-3 win against rivals Aalesund (6) last round, and it seems like they only are getting better and better now. Also manager Solskjaer are saying this, that the team are getting much better after a bit disappointing start of the season. 3 wins in their last 4 matches and a home record of 5-0-2 with goal difference of 16-7 shows us that they want a Europe spot. They will still miss Nattested & Rindaroy to injuries here.
Stromsgodset got the very important and much valued win 4-2 last time vs Kristiansund, so now they are standing with 1-1-3 last 5 matches. The team haven’t won a single away match this season, with away record of; 0-3-5. Last time out on travel they were outplayed vs Lillestrom (9) and lost it 2-0. Are missing Vilsvik & Santos Junior here.
BATE Borisov from Belarus will face Alashkert from Armenia in the first round of the 2nd qualification round to the Champions League. My knowledge about the two teams are limited and therefore i’m going to keep this short but i still think i have some good arguments why this is a good option for this match.
BATE is on a break now from its domestic league and is currently sitting as number 2 behind Shakhtyor. Full focus now on the qualification and and has allowed them to prepare well for this match as they played their last match 01.07. It’s a very defensive team with a good defensive qualities. After 15 matches played in the league they have conseded 7 goals and crossed over this line two times.
Their record in the Champions League is quite impressive as they’ve reaced the group stage in 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015. Since their overall quality isn’t that good we’ve seen some high scoring matches but also matches where they were able to hold tight against good opponents, such as Roma, Barcelona and Milan to name a few. In the qualification rounds we’ve seen them with good control and usually low scoring matches. I think they will be happy with a comfortable lead and dont allow any away goals as it’s crucial. A main goal will be to keep a clean sheet and i think the chances for that is good. The odds on them doing so isn’t that high so i thought this was a better pick. Also i find it hard to see them scoring four goals by themself too.