Rangers v PSV
Rangers and PSV will be battling it out over two legs to reach the Champions League group stage.
The home crowd in this first leg at Ibrox may be a crucial factor for clash in Glasgow. Last time in Europe, Rangers overcame Union Saint-Gilloise with a 3-0 win, overcoming a two-goal deficit. The difference this time being that Rangers will need to take the initiative with their home leg coming first.
It will be a battle of the Dutch head coaches, with Ruud van Nistelrooy taking on Gio van Bronckhorst. Van Nistelrooy is beginning his first season as first-team manager of PSV, and he has enjoyed a great start: winning the Dutch Super Cup against Ajax, scoring goals with ease in the opening two Eredivisie games, and edging past Monaco in their tough tie in the last round of European qualification. PSV were a little lucky to beat Monaco; they spent long periods camped in their own half when trying to defend a lead.
The match looks set to be won or lost in the wide areas. PSV make the most out of the aerial prowess of Dutch international striker Luuk de Jong, and they have good finishers arriving late in the box from midfield including Guus Til and once-Rangers target Joey Veerman. On the left wing, Cody Gakpo is a big threat with his crossing and shooting when cutting inside from wide areas.
Rangers will need to be strong defending their own box – which arguably suits them – and their own wide players may be able to expose weaknesses in PSV’s attack-minded wing-backs. Right-back James Tavernier will relish the battle with Gakpo and will aim to keep him pinned back in his own half.
With the beginning of the game likely to be tight, substitutions may be important. PSV have made some good signings this summer, but they are yet to add strength in depth, and they are without the tricky and pacey winger Noni Madueke on the right side – instead having to rely on youth players to plug the gap. Rangers can make changes to these key battle areas, meaning they may have the upper hand going late into the game, especially if they are losing at this point.
That’s why I would back a Rangers double chance on Tuesday night. The Ibrox crowd and ability to make game-changing alterations may give them the edge late into the game, especially if PSV choose to sit back once more when holding an advantage.
FC Copenhagen v Trabzonspor
We have an interesting fixture in front of us Tuesday evening when the Danish champions from FC Copenhagen take on their Turkish counterparts. The big story of the evening is Trabzonspor striker Andreas Cornelius, who returns to the stadium and club where he started his career, and it’ll be interesting to see how he is received by the home crowd.
FC Copenhagen have started the season in a disappointing fashion. Six points is all they have gathered in the first five rounds of the tournament, and this weekend they lost 3-1 at home to Randers FC in the Danish Superliga. Copenhagen have conceded nine goals, and are yet to keep a clean sheet, which is very far from the standards they set last season.
To make things worse, Copenhagen remains without goalkeeper Kamil Grabara, while central defenders Nicolai Boilesen and David Kvocholava are also doubtful for this big match. This means that the already shaky Copenhagen defense could be even worse than usual.
Trabzonspor are in a quite different state. The Turks have won all three of their matches this season with a total of 7-0, and they couldn’t be in better shape. They are strong defensively, and the offense is doing its job without hesitation.
Unfortunately for Trabzonspor they are without the experienced midfielder Marek Hamsik, the playmaker Edin Visca and right back Bruno Peres, however boast a squad capable of making it difficult for even the best teams in Europe, especially going forward.
We are dealing with two offensive teams who both have their strength in the fun part of the field. Copenhagen needs to score at home if they want to advance, but their defense is weak, so the pick for the match is over 2.5 goals at odds 2.1 at Betfair Sportsbook.
Bodø/Glimt v Dinamo Zagreb
Both sides are now agonisingly close to the Champions League group stage. Bodø/Glimt will attempt to become the first Norwegian side to reach this stage of the competition since Rosenborg in the 2007/08 campaign. The good news for Glimt is that they are in tremendous form heading into this contest winning 13 of their last 17 matches in all formats since resumption from the early summer break. They have been in scintillating goalscoring form too and racked up recent wins 5-0 vs Jerv, 8-0 vs Linfield and 7-0 vs Odd. They warmed up for this fixture with an excellent 4-1 victory over Sarpsborg at the weekend. Glimt are known for their fast paced, high intensity attacking style under the management of Kjetil Knutsen. They generally have a terrific home record in home European matches with the highlight being last years’ infamous 6-1 victory over Italian outfit Roma. There is still a major injury doubt over centre back Brede Moe, who in all likelihood won’t be fit enough to play. Goalkeeper Nikita Khaykin is also doubtful so newly acquired backup Julien Faye Lund might feature.
Dinamo Zagreb will attempt to reach the UCL groups for the first time since the 2019/20 season. Ironically, the team they beat in final qualifying that year was also Norwegian opposition in Rosenborg. In this particular qualifying run, they only just squeezed past Macedonian outfit Shkupi but then easily dispatched Ludogorets 6-3 on aggregate. Both of their fixtures vs the Bulgarian champions were quite wide open, especially the second leg in Zagreb where xG numbers of 2.95 vs 1.27 resulted in a 4-2 victory. Just like Glimt, they warmed up for this match with a 4-1 domestic victory of their own against bitter rivals Hajduk Split at the weekend. In Dominik Livakovic they have an international standard goalkeeper, and in the outfield winger Mislav Orsic has to be considered a key man. North Macedonian international Arijan Ademi is the captain and a key cog in their wheel at defensive midfield.
Zagreb head into the tie as slight favourites to progress into the UCL group stage at odds of 6/10. This is probably fair. They have a lot of European experience, a squad valued higher and having the second leg at home is probably a slight advantage. Bodø/Glimt know that they absolutely must take a lead with them to Croatia, and I expect them to give absolutely everything here. Now that away goals don’t count, they can probably take even more risks because conceding is not as bad as it once was. The obvious pick looks to be over 2.5 goals at 1.73. Glimt matches are known for being very high scoring and Dinamo Zagreb proved in the previous qualifying round that they carry plenty of attacking punch and won’t sit back. The atmosphere will be electric at Aspmyra Stadion. I fancy the Norwegian side might win but taking goals looks like the best option.
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