Champions League Qualifying preview

Champions League

The World Cup finals in Russia will still be going on when Celtic begin their bid to make progress in the Champions League.

Last season the Bhoys made it through three rounds of qualifiers to reach the Group stage of the competition and they will hope to start that journey again, by seeing off Armenian champions Alashkert.

Celtic to win first leg – 1.27

The first leg of the first qualifying round tie takes place in Armenia next Tuesday, with the visitors expected to have to cope with high temperatures, but they will do so knowing that a home second leg should prove to be a major advantage.

The draw at 4.90 could be tempting if you fancy a longer shot and you think the Bhoys will struggle to get going on their first outing of the new campaign and put their faith in being able to ensure victory in the tie back on home turf.

As well as the champions of Scotland, the champions of Northern Ireland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland also begin their seasons next week.

Shkendija to win – 1.62

Welsh champions The New Saints face a tough tie when they take on Shkendija, with the first leg in the Republic of Macedonia.

Having been runners-up in the previous two seasons, Shkendija went one better to claim their national title last season They made it through three qualifying rounds of the Europa League in both 2016/17 and 2017/18, before losing out to Gent and AC Milan.

So, there is plenty of reason to think that they will have too much for the Welshmen, although TNS have not lost the first tie they have played in any of the last three seasons.

So if you fancy the visitors to make it tough for their hosts, 4.45 for a half-time draw and full-time home win might just tempt you in.

Legia Warsaw to win – 1.58

Of the four British and Irish sides in action next week, Cork City are the team who possibly face the toughest ask of the quartet.

Polish champions Legia Warsaw have played in European competition in each of the last seven seasons, reaching the group stage of the Champions League as recently as 2016/17.

Cork do have home advantage for the first leg and the addition of former Premier League defender Damien Delaney should be a major boost, so 3.65 for the draw is a decent back-up option should the hosts be up for the fight.

Ludogorets v Crusaders – Half With Most Goals (First Half) – 2.55

Crusaders, like Cork City, have been handed a tough draw, which could see their Champions League hopes dashed at the first hurdle.

Bulgarian champions Ludogorets Razgrad reached the knockout stages of the Europa League last season, where they were beaten 4-0 on aggregate by AC Milan.

Two of the previous three campaigns saw them in action in the group stage of the Champions League, so they have plenty of recent pedigree.

The hosts on Wednesday of next week are surely likely to want to make a fast start to take control of the tie and so goals in the first half appear a good option, with 1.05 for a Ludogorets win far too skinny to warrant too much attention.