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Serbian Champions Crvena Zvezda, or Red Star Belgrade in English, will host Young Boys at Stadium Rajko Mitic. I expect an interesting match in Belgrade, particularly knowing both teams took part in the group stage last season. By the way, both sides obtained some memorable results last year - Young Boys beat the Italian Giants Juventus, while Red Star defeated eventual European Champions Liverpool. We will definitely enjoy a good football in this match.
The first-leg match played in Switzerland ended with a 2:2 draw. Young Boys went ahead in the seventh minute when Roger Assale was sent clear of the defense and the Ivorian forward drove his shot past Milan Borjan. Milos Degenek leveled in the 18th minute, while Borjan had three outstanding saves to keep the Serbians level at halftime. Crvena Zvezda started successfully the second half and took the advantage in the 46th minute through the Argentine Mateo Garcia. The drama continued in the finish when the referee awarded Young Boys the penalty after a VAR review. Hoarau converted the penalty into a 2:2 draw.
Red Star are in fine form in the Champions League. They eliminated Danish side FC Copenhagen, winning 7:6 on penalties after both matches finished with a 1:1 draw. Prior to that, Red Star also managed to eliminate Suduva with 2:1 aggregate victory and HJK Helsingin with 3:2. Young Boys, meanwhile, started the competition in the play-off phase, meaning the Serbian Champions are their first opponents. The Swiss outfit were successful during the weekend, winning 4:0 against FC Zurich in domestic Super League. Red Star had a free weekend as they asked for their derby match with Partizan to be postponed in order to be fresh for Tuesday.
Red Star Belgrade vs Young Boys Prediction:
Red Star Belgrade are just one step away from group stage of the Champions League. They only need a goalless draw to secure progress. An 1:1 draw is also a good result for the hosts. Coach Vladan Milojevic is an expert in that area. I will remind You that his team kept clean sheet at home against Napoli (0:0) and Liverpool (2:0) last season. Young Boys need the victory, but I am sure they won't risk too much until the final 20 minutes. Considering these facts, I expect a low scoring match here.
Red Star Belgrade vs Young Boys Pick: Under 2.5 goals @ 2.09 with Pinnacle
Ajax will host the Cypriot side APOEL at Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam for their Champions League play-off match. The first game in Cyprus finished with a goalless draw. Both teams had chances to score, Andrija Pavlovic hit the crossbar for APOEL, while Ajax strikers missed few good opportunities. The Dutch side played the last 10 minutes without Noussair Mazraoui who was sent off. He won't play in Amsterdam due to suspension and that's a handicap for Erik ten Hag. In addition, Kasper Dolberg, Carel Eiting and Quincy Promes are struggling with injury. APOEL coach Thomas Doll has three unavailable players - Alef, Georgios Efrem and Praxitelis Vouros.
Ajax need to win this match in order to reach the group stage. They were in similar situation in the previous stage when played a 2:2 draw with PAOK in Greece. The semi-finalist from the last season won 3:2 in Amsterdam in a controversial match with three penalties, all for Ajax. Dusan Tadic converted two of them, while the third goal was scored by Nicolas Tagliafico. APOEL, meanwhile, played two rounds so far in the qualifications for the Champions League. First they easily eliminated the Montenegro champions Sutjeska Niksic with 4:0 aggregate victory. It was much harder in the next round as APOEL lost 1:2 from Qarabag at home in the first leg. However, the Cypriots managed to win 2:0 in Azerbaijan and qualified.
Ajax became the first club in European history to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League having come through three qualifying rounds. They managed to eliminate some big names, like Real Madrid and Juventus. The key figure in the team was Dusan Tadic. The French newspaper L'Equipe gave Tadic a rare 10/10 score after his Masterclass performance against Real Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu. Ajax were definitely the most pleasant surprise in the Champions League last season.
APOEL are arguably the best Cypriot club. They became champions of Cyprus for a record 28th time last season. It was their seventh successive league title. APOEL also have international experience. They will try to reach the group stage in the Champions League for the fifth time. Their best Champions League campaign came in the season 2011/12, when they topped their group and reached the quarter-finals before losing to Real Madrid. The other three group appearances were not so successful as they finished last in the groups.
Ajax vs APOEL Prediction:
I expect both teams to score at Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam. Ajax will go for the victory, no doubt about that. They are offensive oriented side with good and experienced coach. And Ajax will score, probably more than once. So, the question is if APOEL are capable to find the back of the net. I think so. Ajax kept the bulk of their team together, but key central defender Matthijs de Ligt left the club and joined Juventus. His absence is a huge handicap for the coach Erik ten Hag. This is the main reason why Ajax conceded four goals in previous round's clashes with PAOK. I think APOEL will score too.
Ajax vs APOEL Pick: Both teams to score - Yes @ 2.00 with Bet365
I don't think there is a question of qualification, there will be no problem for Olympiacos, so we better stay away from the end result. I expect an open match, the pressure of the home side and so there is value in both teams scoring. FC KRASNODAR vs OLYMPIACOS PIRAEUS @@ Both team to score, odd 1.70