How to find Champions League excitement beyond Man City mastery
Man City and Celtic may not have much trouble in their Champions League play-off round second legs, but a number of other ties are finely balanced.
Both the Citizens and Bhoys scored five each in their respective first legs against Steaua Bucharest and Hapoel Be’er Sheva. They appear home and hosed in the race to reach the competition’s group stage. However, five of the eight other ties are either locked at 1-1 or are separated by just a one-goal margin. The highest profile of those is between Porto and Roma, which sits level after the first 90 minutes thanks to Andre Silva’s equalising penalty at the Estadio do Dragao.
With the second leg to be held in Rome, the Italian side are our 4/6 favourites to win in 90 minutes, with Porto 17/4 and the draw 13/5. Just like that heavyweight tussle, Ajax are locked at a goal apiece with Russian side Rostov. Skipper Davy Klaasen scored from the spot in the first half to cancel out Christian Noboa’s opener. Ajax must now travel to Russia to as slim 7/4 favourites to win.
Elsewhere Monaco are the surprise leaders at the halfway stage against Villarreal. The French scored an early penalty through Fabinho and then edged back in front through Bernardo Silva after Alexandre Pato levelled things up. As hosts, we make Monaco 5/4 to win the second leg, with the Spaniards 21/10 and a draw a 23/10 chance.
The other side with a slender advantage is Copenhagen, who beat APOEL 1-0, while Dinamo Zagreb’s battle with Red Bull Salzburg is the other tie locked at 1-1.