With all that’s been going on elsewhere, the embryonic stages of the Champions League have gone somewhat under the radar, but this midweek sees three British and Irish sides in action.
Both Linfield and Shamrock Rovers have work to do on Tuesday, while on Wednesday Connah’s Quay face a long trip east to Armenia.
The First Qualifying Round always provides upsets, but the three home hopes look to have the world against them against a trio of classy outfits.
Linfield Face Uphill Battle
Windsor Park has seen plenty of famous nights for the underdog over the years, but whether Linfield can produce another to usurp a 3-1 disadvantage against Zalgiris remains to be seen.
The Lithuanian champions were a class apart last week in Vilnius and have the added advantage of being in the middle of their season, currently sitting top of the A Lyga and unbeaten in 11 across all competitions.
In contrast, Linfield’s league campaign is still to get under way and they have struggled in pre-season, failing to net in defeats to both Kilmarnock and St Mirren.
The fact they scored last week suggests they can do so again but Zalgiris were far and away the better side and their price of
11/10 to win again undoubtedly tempts, while the away win and over 2.5 goals in Belfast is a decent
More Frustration for Shamrocks?
A touch further south in Dublin, Shamrock Rovers, playing in the Champions League qualifiers for the first time since 2012, have a 2-0 lead to overturn against Slovan Bratislava in Tallaght.
Facing a familiar name like Slovan, the side who beat Barcelona to win the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1969, is always a tough gig, even if they no longer possess their prowess of yesteryear.
Ratao was the hero last week in the Slovak capital, the Brazilian netting both goals, and he is someone to look out for again.
Rovers sit top of the league domestically and should be sharper than their rivals, who are still to get their season going. That said, last week’s result was conclusive and it would be no surprise to see a repeat Slovan win to zero at
Morrison’s Men to Fall Short
Finally on to Wednesday and after a spirited 2-2 in the opening leg, there could be just too much to do for Connah’s Quay away at Alashkert.
Former Huddersfield and Manchester City defender is in charge of the Nomads and his side could do with a slice of his determination at the Vazgen Sargsyan Republican Stadium.
Alashkert sit clear at the top of their domestic table and will not be cowed by taking on the Welsh champions.
That is perhaps why the home win is just
20/51 and there is also the added element of them still riding a bit of a new manager bounce under Aleksandr Grigoryan.
The 54-year-old will expect to see his side dominate the game and a home win to zero comes in
*All odds correct at time of writing