Low scoring affair
Red Star Belgrade and Salzburg are within touching distance of some big nights against the giants of European football but first they will have to square off against each other. Group stage action in the Champions League would be a huge achievement for both these clubs. Therefore they will be under real pressure here and with the pair so good at the back, a tight game looks likely. Salzburg come into the game following five straight clean sheets, with four of those games producing Under 2.5 Goals. Red Star for their part are topping their league and have also won four out of four whilst conceding just once.
Tough test for PSV
PSV Eindhoven will head to Belarus to take on a BATE Borisov side who have made four group stage appearances in this competition this decade alone. The Dutch Champions have been affected by the new system that allows more teams from the big leagues direct entry into the group stage. BATE are in the middle of their season and they should have enough to cause problems to the visitors. It remains doubtful that they can emerge on top over two legs, but they should be able to avoid a defeat here.
PAOK to grind out a result?
Benfica will be going up against PAOK in their bid to make it to the group stage of the Champions League. Benfica will be playing the first leg at home where they need to pick up a good result considering the home form of their guests, who have been grinding out results away from home while maintaining an incredible home record. If Benfica are unable to do this they might just be forced out of the competition this early on. We expect a very tight fixture here and the hosts should have enough to see them through.
Dinamo Zagreb to call on experience
Dinamo Zagreb and Young Boys will also be battling for a place in the group stage. Young Boys have been regular participants in the qualifiers recently but, unlike their opponents, haven’t made it to the group stage. Dinamo Zagreb are unbeaten in 16 qualifying matches overall heading into this fixture and they will be counting on their experience to do the job here. Young Boys have done well to reach the fourth round of qualifiers and it will be interesting to see how they cope with their opponents.
Ajax out to avoid mistakes from last season
Ajax and Dynamo Kiev continue their push for continued European action. The Dutch are not as talented going forward as they used to be, having scored a single goal in each of their back-to-back league games. However they have been slightly more free-flowing in Europe with ten goals in four matches so far. They will be wary of conceding an away goal given that defensive faults at home put them out of two European competitions last summer and they will be hoping to avoid a similar fate here. Their home qualifiers this summer have brought two clean sheets, so we expect their defence to keep the score down too this time.