From preliminary round to play-off, from 53 teams to 12, six games and only six teams can found place in group stage. Today will play 3 games and Wednesday brings also 3 games.
Tuesday, 3 games:
21:00 CET, Apoel (Cyp) – Ajax (Ned)
Stadium: NEO Gsp Stadium (Nicosia)
Capacity: 22 859
Referee: Lahoz A. (Esp)
In Nicosia, capital of Cyprus, home team Apoel will try to win against last year semifinalist, champion of Eredivisie, Ajax from Amsterdam. Apoel starts their competition from 2nd round and win in two match against Sutjeska from Niksic, Montengero league champions, 1 – 0 in Montenegro and 3 – 0 in Nicosia. In next round, they survive against Qarabag, they lost in home game, result was be 2 – 1 for Azerbaijan champions, but in Baku, capital of Azerbaijan, Apoel played excellent and they won with result 2 – 0 for total result of 3 – 2 for team of coach Paolo Tramezzani. Ajax played against Paok in 3rd qualifying phase. First match was played in Thessaloniki and was drawn, both team scored a twice, but in Johan Cruyff Arena, in one opened game where we saw five goals and three penalties (all of them for home team), Ajax scored three and Paok scored two, and Ajax went to play-off. For this match, both coaches have little problems with injured players. Apoel can’t counting on centre back, Vouros, defensive midfield, Alef, and right winger Georgios Efrem. Erik ten Hag has bigger problems than his colleague, because he can’t counting on winger Quincy Promes, central forward Dolberg and midfield Eiting, one of the best player last season, Hakim Ziyech and his compatriot Mazraoui are under question mark for this match, but whatever Ajax is big favorite in this game, because they have more experience and quality than Apoel. Dusan Tadic has main role against Paok, He and Donny van de Beek are key players for Netherland champions in tonight game.
21:00h CET, CFR Cluj (Rou) – Slavia Prague (Cze)
Stadium: Stadionul Dr. Constantin Rădulescu (Cluj-Napoca)
Capacity: 23 500
Referee: Cakir C. (Tur)
Romanian champions, Cfr Cluj has solid chance to play in UCL, but they must survive against Czech champion, last year quarterfinalist of Europa League, Slavia Prague. In this moment, Slavia is a power than Cluj, but Cluj played excellent in previous rounds against very tough opponents. In first round, they eliminated Astana, team which is standard in group stage of european competitions, after lost in first match in Kazahstan and Astana scored early goal in Romania, Cluj started play very well, and scored three goal, what was enough for next round. In next round, they played against Maccabi Tel Aviv, and won in Romania and draw in Israel enabled to play against Celtic in next round. First match was in Romania, and Cluj scored first in middle of first halftime, but Celtic played better and scored ten minutes later, and that was final score of game, 1-1. In Scotland, everybody expected easy win for green-white, but Cluj disagreed, and in one crazy game, with many reversal, Cluj won 3-4, and total score of 5-4 forward Cluj to meet with Slavia. Slavia thanks to good coefficient skipped previous rounds and started competition in play-off round. Both teams have complete squad for tonight game, and we expected game in slow rhythm, maybe without goals, because Slavia is a team who doesn’t play nice football with many goals, but they are one of the best mid-range clubs when in question tactical segments of game, but Cluj will try to win in front of their fans. We will see.
21:00h CET, Lask Linz (Aut) – Club Brugge (Bel)
Stadium: Linzer Stadion
Capacity: 21 005
Referee: Marciniak S. (Pol)
In only league path match tonight, home Lask from Linz will host Belgium vice-champion, Club Brugge. In previous round, Lask was played against Swiss team, Basel. They won in both match, 1-2 in Basel, in Austria was 3-1 for home team, total score of 5-2 was enough for advance to play-off. Brugge was played against Dynamo Kyiv, and win on home pitch and draw in Olympic Stadium in capital of Ukraine was enough to skip first step. I think this match will bring good football from both side, both teams are in good shape in national championships, and many goals is my opinion, because Brugge is little favorite but Lask has home court advantage and try to win.