The preliminary round is over and we know all 32 participants of the first qualifying round that starts Tuesday with eight games on the schedule. There are a few interesting games in the next two days, and keep in mind these are the first legs. First, we’ll take a closer look at Tuesday’s games.
Tuesday, July 9, 2019
|FC Astana||CFR Cluj||1.80||3.30||4.75||2.60/1.47|
|Ararat Armenia||AIK Stockholm||5.50||3.60||1.65||2.50/1.50|
|HJK Helsinki||HB Torshavn||1.16||7.50||13.00||1.60/2.25|
|Nomme Kalju||Shkendija Tetovo||8.00||4.00||1.45||2.05/1.75|
|Suduva||Red Star Belgrade||7.50||4.20||1.44||2.05/1.75|
The action starts in Kazakhstan where Astana hosts Cluj in one of the most interesting duels of the first round. Both teams have a few internationals in their squads, and we should see a thrilling matchup. Astana could have an advantage, considering their domestic championship started in spring, while Cluj just finished with hard work in the offseason.
AIK is a strong favorite against Ararat on the road, and the Swedish champion is in the middle of its domestic campaign, unlike the Armenian Premier League. AIK won three of its last outings on the road in Allsvenskan and six of its previous nine games overall.
Shkendija Tetovo and Red Star Belgrade both should satisfy the odds on the road whereas they are arguably much better teams than their rivals. Red Star already defeated Suduva in both legs last season.
Dudelange is a strong fave at home and should beat Valletta, while Celtic could have a tricky job in Sarajevo. The home fans will make a fiery atmosphere at Asim Ferhatovic Hase Stadium, and Sarajevo could be a tough rival to beat even though Celtic is certainly a better team on a paper.
HJK Helsinki is a massive fave to beat HB Torshavn, and the hosts shouldn’t have any problems to satisfy the odds. HJK won two of its last three games overall and just one of its previous six showings at home, but Klubi should have enough firepower to beat HB.
TNS welcomes Feronikeli as a firm favorite to win the first leg, but I would avoid betting on the first leg between these two amateur teams.
My Picks: Red Star over Suduva & HJK Helsinki AH-1.5