These are Champions League (CL) second legs so we take our cues from the first leg, and account for the importance of away goals in 2-legged matches. Rather like the tennis, we get better results trading the better players (teams in the case of football). August 2nd and the French Ligue 1 season begins at the weekend so the quality will be arriving. Ditto with the tennis albeit the time zone prohibits any trading unless you are a night owl or like some crisp early morning trading (I am talking 5am and earlier!). I think my focus today will be on Goodwood and Galway @whatreallywins. The Champions League and the Tennis really does not appeal. That said, I always have the in-play stats up so will pass on any strong stats @drtclub for these 2nd leg matches if there are any.
18:00 - APOEL v Viitorul Constanta - 1.77 APOEL
- 1-0 Viitorul from the first leg saw them hold on to the lead albeit with a late red card.
- Viitorul did not concede an away goal. APOEL will bring the tie to parity if they score first but Viitorul will then be in the driving seat if scoring , as they will have that precious away goal.
- This is Viitorul's first venture into the Champions League. APOEL's experience may see them right eventually. 3-3-1-1 goals scored in their last 4 home CL matches.
- Viitorul are a relative unknown in this competition. APOEL has scored only one goal max in their last 2 home matches. That will suffice if they can keep it to 1-1 on aggregate.
18:00 - BATE Borisov v Slavia Prague - 2.42 Slavia Prague
- A Slavia Prague penalty in reaction to a BATE red card is the only difference between these 2 teams.
- This clouds the scoreline. It does not show BATE to their optimum.
- This is Slavia's return to the Champions League after an 8 year haitus. BATE are far more frequent visitors.
- In 2015 BATE was playing the likes of Barcelona, Roma, and Bayer Leverkusen.
- I do think, in light of the first half penalty and red card, that BATE may be capable here of equalising on aggregate. It is advantage Slavia though - if they score an away goal, BATE will need to score 3 goals in order to qualify.
18:00 - CSKA Moscow v AEK Athens - 1.59 CSKA
- CSKA tends to meet the big boys in the Champions League. That is not a description which applies to AEK Athens who last visited the Champions League in 2007.
- 2 away goals for CSKA gives them some leeway tonight. In their last 2 home matches in the Champions League they drew 1-1 with Monaco and Bayer Leverkusen. A draw does for CSKA today.
18:45 - Basaksehir v Club Brugge - 1.84 Basak
- 2-0 Club Brugge lead, 2-3 Basaksehir turns into 3-3 final score.
- Club Brugge plays some big names last year in the Champions League, from Leicester to Porto to Copenhagen but they simply lost.
- Basaksehir have come from nowhere to be the dominant force in Turkey, splitting Fenerbahce and Galatasary and Besiktas dominance.
- Basaksehir were unbeaten at home domestically last season and should be a force today. I am not sure of the angle in. Remember they go through with a 0-0.
19:00 - FC Copenhagen v Vardar Skopje - 1.62 FC
- 1-0 Vardar 65th minute goal from the first leg sees Vardar not concede a clean sheet.
- We normally expect FC Copenhagen in an early group stage of the Champions League, as occured last year. They should be playing better quality sides.
- FC must stand guard against an away goal. FC must therefore score first today and score 3 goals at least as insurance for a Vardar away goal today.
- The market expects FC Copenhagen to win, but even if they win 2-1 they will lose under the away goal, hence the need for the 3 goals.
19:15 - Plzen v FCSB - 2.12 Plzen
- Plzen has conceded 2 goals in each of their last 3 Champions League matches and has a run of 2 2-2 results. They scored 2 away goals in this match so a 0-0 or win to nil sees Plzen through today.
- FCSB I think are Steaua Bucharest. Last year they played the likes of Manchester City.
- I cannot get an angle in here. It is worrying for Plzen that they concede 2 goals so readily v all comers it seems.
19:15 - Young Boys v Dynamo Kiev - 2.62 Young Boys
- Young Boys look woefully out of their depth in the Champions League. That, I suppose, was underlined by a 3-1 loss to Dynamo Kiev first leg. A goal each came in the 90th minute. Young Boys have an away goal which means a 2-0 today sees them through in the simplest terms.
- Dynamo Kiev only need do what they did v Manchester City, Besiktas, Benfica or Napoli away in the Champions League (0-0, 1-1, 1-0, 0-0). Any of those will do. An away goal will finish the tie.
19:30 - Hafnarfjordur v NK Maribor - 2.82 Both sides
- 1-0 Maribor from the first leg and another well crafted first leg scoreline - no away goal conceded.
- The market simply cannot split these 2 teams and I am not going to try!
- 2 consecutive score draws for Hafn plays right into NK's hands tonight!
19:30 - Ludogorets v Hapoel Beer Sheva - 1.9 Ludogorets
- Ludogorets last year met the likes of Arsenal, Basel, and PSG and got little out of the exchanges. Hapoel were on the Beer last year as they beat Celtic, Olympiakos, Honved twice.
- Hapoel have a 2-0 home lead and that was expected for me given their abilities to score 2 goals at home.
- Ludogorets scored v PSG and Arsenal at home so I would expect Ludo to land a blow at some point. They must strive for a 2-0 today to bring this tie to parity. A goal for Hapoel and they really will be on the Beer again as Ludo will need 4 goals in order to qualify.
- Ludogorets, like a lot of teams today, are walking on a thin ledge.
19:45 - Olympiakos v Partizan Belgrade - 1.56 Oly
- 1-3 Olympiakos from the first leg.
- Olympiakos clearly has the measure of Partizan Belgrade. There is little in the way of a trading angle. Partizan must score 3 goals away from home in order to have a chance of qualifying. If they only score 2, the tie will be 3-3 but Olympiakos will have those away goals.
19:45 - Rosenborg v Celtic - 2.56 Celtic
- A satisfactory first leg from Celtic - they did not concede an away goal. 0-0 it remains.
- 1-1, 1-1, 0-2 Celtic in their last 3 away matches in the Champions League. Of course, 1-1 is perfick. They achieved the 1-1's v Mgladbach and Manchester City so should have an element of confidence going into this encounter.
- Rosenborg has match fitness on its side as the Norwegian Eliteserien is well established. They also have a reasonable home record but have yet to meet a thoroughly recognisable team.
- I do think Celtic can get that away goal today.
19:45 - Ajax v Nice - 1.75 Ajax
- This looks like the first time Nice has been in the Champions League.
- 1-1 from the first leg sees Ajax with an away goal.
- Ajax has scored and conceded in each of their last 7 Champions League matches and really on this occasion they could actually do with a clean sheet.
- Any Nice goal will need an immediate reply. The market expects the experience of Ajax to see them through. 1-0 is perfect for them today. 0-0 of course is the simplest route to the next round.
19:45 - Legia Warsaw v FC Astana - 1.76 Legia
- 3-1 Astana from the first leg. Legia did score an away goal. In November 2016 Legia scored 3 goals v Real Madrid (albeit Real are not known for their defensive strengths).
- Legia need a 2-0 today to go through in the simplest terms. An Astana goal makes life very tough for the Poles. Astana did score in their last 2 away Champions League matches.
19:45 - Rijeka v Red Bull Salzburg - 2.34 Rijeka
- Rijeka are new to the Champions League. 1-1 from the first leg sees them with an away goal to work with.
- The last time Red Bull met a Croat side away , it ended 1-1 which will leave the tie in a stalemate.
- No strong angles.
17:00 - A.E.L. v Austria Vienna - 2.58 Austria Vienna
- 0-0 in the first leg sees advantage with the away side here. If Austria Vienna score, A.E.L. will need to score 2 goals. Any score draw sees Austria Vienna through.
- Austria Vienna has played the likes of Plzen and Roma so their poor form in that regard does not compare with playing today's opponents.
- No angles here, suffice to say the away side will be looking for that potential qualifying away goal.
- 0-0 might be backable pre-match if you think A.E.L will be ultra defensive here.
17:00 Sion v FK Suduva - 1.34 Sion
- Own goal, 9th minute and 90th minute Suduva goals saw a shock 3-0 FK lead to take into this 2nd leg. An FK away goal will leave the Swiss side Sion with a mountain to climb.
- The market has gone confidently with the Swiss home side. If you think they can do it, back 3-0, 5-0 and 5-1 (remember Sion will have a potential away goal in their calculations.
The USA events begin at about 19:00 today and run through the night. It is a real pity as there are some marquee names out this evening in the start to their US Open warm-ups.
ATP Kitzbuhel - clay - remains the only tournament on UK /European time. Lots of matches where the favourite is at odds of 1.8 or higher makes this a very tough set of matches today.
Renzo Olivo v Horacio Zeballos - 1.62 Zeballos
- 88th v 84th.
- Both Argentinians should know each other well.
- 2 3 setter head to heads.
- I said yesterday that Horacio's form was tough to read.
- I would tentatively expect a 3 setter based on head to heads and on the fact these 2 are Argentinians.
Jiri Vesely v Philipp Kohlschreiber - 1.86 Jiri
- Jiri is twice a quarter finalist on clay, albeit playing only 2 matches in order to reach the quarters.
Vesely is adequate on clay, having won a Prostejov Challenger tour event and , when he has lost, losing in 3 sets or 2 sets (with a tie breaker).
- Kohlschreiber recently retired but won through yesterday so an assumption can be made that he is fit.
- 58th v 31st.
- 2-0 Kohl in head to heads.
- Tough to read this one, just as the odds suggest.
Dusan Lajovic v Gilles Simon - 1.86 Simon
- 79th v 30th.
- No head to heads.
- Dusan is a semi finalist and finalist in Clay Challenger tour events so a hint at proficiency on clay, albeit against worse ranked players than him.
- 4 of Dusan's last 5 matches has seen a tie breaker on clay and that can give Simon a glimpse into one set at least.
- On grass, it took a solid player to beat Simon. I am surprised with his ranking as he seems to win little.
- Simon has dropped a clay court set in 8 of his last 10 matches.
- Dare we expect a 3 setter here with a natural nod towards laying Dusan if Dusan wins the first set?
Jan-Lennard Struff v Thomaz Bellucci - 1.81 Struff
- 52nd v 54th so tight rankings.
- 8 defeats in 11 for Struff so struffling for form. He beat an out of form Tommy Haas yesterday.
- 6 consecutive losses for Bellucci ended with a 3 setter win v Dolgopolov who blows hot and cold.
- Unreadable clay court form from Bellucci. Not a match which inspires.
Pablo Cuevas v Sebastian Ofner - 1.28 Cuevas
- 26th v 277th and we have a case here of a poorly ranked player playing above himself in his home tournament.
- That said, Basilashvili retired yesterday so Ofner is lucky to be here.
- Despite 3 consecutive clay court losses, Cuevas did reach the semis in Madrid so has clay court form and really should put Ofner in his place.
Paolo Lorenzi v Joao Sousa - 1.98 Lorenzi
- The odds tell a story. The market cannot split these 2 and these odds usually suggest 3 setters.
- 38th v 37th - it could not get tighter.
- Lorenzi is a consecutive clay court Challenger tour finalist so is adequate on clay.
- When Sousa has lost recently, they have been 3 setters on clay.
- Is this a case of faith in a market which cannot split these 2 players and defaults to a prospective 3 setter?
Miljan Zekic v Fabio Fognini - 1.17 Foggy
- 214th v 29th.
- 4 3 setters in 6 matches for Zekic who shocked an even shorter odds Kuzentsov by beating him in 2 tie breaker sets.
- He has now had 4 consecutive tie breaker sets. Foggy I would suggest could nick one if this habit continues.
- I do not expect a Zekic 2-0 win today. That is the angle and a hope Zekic looks like winning the first set.
Gerald Melzer v Santiago Giraldo - 1.88 Melzer
- 116th v 99th.
- Melzer is the Austrian playing in Austria.
- A recent semi finalist and finalist on clay in Challenger Tour events, Melzer needed 3 sets v 1.61 fav Berlocq in the first round.
- Giraldo's recent clay court form is poor, he never seems to get out of the 2nd round, even in Challenger tour events.
- I would tentatively side with the Austrian today and lay Giraldo if Giraldo wins the first set.