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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: third qualifying round

by Ben, last updated 2005-08-07 21:22:20

 CSKA Sofia vs Liverpool 10th August 2005

 CSKA Sofia (6) Draw (3.7) Liverpool (1.73)

Liverpool face a much tougher test in Bulgaria when they take on CSKA Sofia. TNS and Kanaus didn't put up much of a fight. I expect Liverpool to advance but winning both legs is a different matter.

I am having trouble gauging the quality of the Bulgarian League. In the past they have produced some great teams but I don't think they've done much recently. I was looking on some fan site http://www.cska.net/?newlang=eng and 23 years ago they beat Liverpool 2-0. They beat some Albanian team (Tirana SK) 2-0 in both legs to get to the 3rd round this year.

Liverpool played poorly in the first half against Kanaus at Anfield. Qualifying was just a formality after the first leg I would have expected them to play a little better than they did though. Looking at the injuries (Jerzy Dudek, Peter Crouch, Djimi Traore, Boudewijn Zenden, Josemi, Harry Kewell, Neil Mellor and Florent Sinama-Pongolle) I think Zenden will be missed the most. He's been one of the best players from what I've seen.

I'm not too keen at backing Liverpool at the odds on offer, 1.73 is too low. Maybe if they had to win this fixture it would be a good bet but they might be content with a score draw, knowing they'll be able to beat them in the return leg. Liverpool suffered after Champions League fixtures last year and must have one eye on the tricky opening day fixture at Middlesbrough. I'll avoid the Asian Handicap too, -0.75. I think if Liverpool do win it, it'll be by a single goal and that'll only pay half.

So my bet for this match is going to be Cisse to score any time. The price is 2.5 at Ladbrokes. Cisse's a good striker and has been scoring regularly. That goal he scored against Kanaus was top quality. Morientes has been off form since he arrived so probably won't score. Crouch is injured and Baros probably won't play.

I picked up the paper coupon today from my local Ladbrokes and the price for Liverpool there is 4/5 (1.8). I suppose at that price its worth having a bet on Liverpool winning. I think they'll accept bets at that price if you walk into the shop and don't put too much on. On the website the price is 1.73.



 Everton vs Villarreal CF, Tuesday 9th August

 Everton (2.40) Draw (3.25) Villareal (2.87)

Everton drew the short straw in the Champions League. Out of all the teams they could have got, I think only Inter Milan and Liverpool could have been worse. The UEFA Cup place is waiting for them.

Everton haven't had a good pre season. They were thrashed 5-0 by Fenerbahce last week and managed a 1-0 home win against Udinese midweek. They have only managed to score 3 in the last 5 pre season friendlies. Looking at their team, I can't see how they are going to score in competitive matches. Last year's leading goal scorer was Tim Cahill who plays in midfield. Their strikers don't score very much. Their big money signing, James Beatie has done little since his arrival.

Villareal finished 3rd in la Liga last year. They have ex-Manchester United striker, Diego Forlan, who scored 25 goals last season making him Europe's joint top goal scorer with Arsenals Thierry Henry. They also have Argentine internationals Juan Roman Riquelme and Luciano Figueroa who were impressive in the confederations cup this summer.

Asian odds aren't out yet but judging from the 3 way odds, the handicap will be either 0 or +0.25 to Villarreal . I can't work out why Everton are favourites for this match. This is more or less the same team that lost 7-0 to Arsenal and 3-2 to a 10 man Bolton at the end of last season. I'm going for a small bet on Villareal at 2.87 at William Hill. I'll have another look at when the Asian Handicap odds come out and probably put some more on.




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