Dinamo Zagreb’s Mislav Orsic, center, celebrates with his teammates after scoring his side’s second goal during the Europa League round of 16 second leg soccer match between Dinamo Zagreb and Tottenham Hotspur at the Maksimir stadium in Zagreb, Croatia, March 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)
- The second leg of all first round qualifying matches of the 2021/22 UEFA Champions League kick off on Tuesday and Wednesday this week
- The round of first leg matches was full of goals and this round will be where most of the larger sides begin to step up and separate themselves from the rest of the competition
- Get the odds, our analysis and betting prediction below
The Euros and Copa America have both finished, which means it is already time to dive back in to club football. Most big clubs have started their preseason either this week or last week. However, for a lot of smaller clubs across Europe, Champions League qualifying is at the forefront of their minds. Last week teams played in the first leg of the first qualifying round and will all play their second leg on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. Teams that advance past this round have two more rounds of two-legged qualifying fixtures plus a two-legged playoff to reach the group stages.
It is completely fair to think that most of these sides are unknown across the greater footballing picture in Europe. Even the sides with noticeable names like Dinamo Zagreb are just getting players back from summer tournaments, which makes these games very interesting. All in all, reaching Champions League football is the pinnacle of success in Europe, and qualifying is where it all begins.
UEFA Champions League Qualifying Odds
|Hibernians FC Paola vs Flora Tallinn||+260||+210||+110|
|Lincoln Red IMPS FC vs CS Fola Esch||+230||+260||-112|
|Riga FC vs Malmo FF||+700||+375||-335|
|Borac Banja Luka vs CFR Cluj||+500||+255||-167|
|KF Prishtina vs Ferencvaros||+550||+335||-220|
|Buducnost Podgorica vs HJK||+235||+215||+120|
|Linfield vs Zalgiris Vilnius||+230||+240||+100|
|Shamrock Rovers vs Slovan Bratislava||+220||+230||+105|
|Shakhtyor Soligorsk vs Ludogorets Razgrad||+320||+240||-118|
|Valur Reykjavik vs Dinamo Zagreb||+900||+450||-455|
|Kairat Almaty vs Maccabi Haifa||+120||+215||+200|
|Alashkert vs Connah’s Quay FC||-250||+300||+700|
|Neftci PFC Baku vs Dinamo Tbilisi||-106||+230||+240|
|Legia Warszawa vs Bode/Glimt||+110||+240||+200|
Odds as of July 12 at DraftKings
Riga FC vs Malmo FF Prediction
The first Champions League qualifying match to break down is between Riga and Malmo out of Latvia and Sweden, respectively. Malmo expectedly won the first game 1-0 at home thanks to a lone Antonio Colak goal in the 50th minute. Now, Malmo are tasked with traveling to the Skonto Stadium in Riga to defend their narrow lead. The reverse fixture of this match was the first time these clubs have ever played in Europe.
Malmo FF open up thr score.
Antonio Colak scores the goal, very big mistake from the goalkeeper Roberts Ozols, the shot came right at him, he did not catch it, mostly bobbled it and the ball crossed the goal line.
Malmo vs Riga FC 1:0 pic.twitter.com/hjTikJ0kXM
— 🇱🇻 footy in English. (@LV_footballnews) July 7, 2021
For Malmo, they have been on the better run of form, winning five out of their last six matches, ignoring friendlies. Colak has been their main man so far, already chipping in with six goals this season, while Viljko Bermancevik has netted three. For Riga, their last win came over two weeks ago against FC Noah Jurmala in the Virsliga. While they have the advantage at home, I do not see them overcoming the 24 time Swedish champions, who already have a 1-0 edge.
Pick: Malmo FF -1.5 (+102)
2022 FIFA World Cup Odds Tracker
Shakhtyor Soligorsk vs Ludogorets Razgrad Prediction
Another highly anticipated match in the second leg of first round Champions League qualifying is between Shakhtyor Soligorsk and Ludogorets Razgrad of Belarus and Bulgaria. The first match ended in dramatic fashion as 25 year-old, Cauly Souza bagged the winner in the 92nd minute for Ludogorets. Furthermore, this Champions League qualifier is so interesting because Ludogorets is always one of those teams that flirts with European football, so this is truly imperative to their club’s success.
Despodov: The rematch will be hard https://t.co/HGPAWxUu02 #ludogorets pic.twitter.com/9ZQsBrLPdT
— PFC Ludogorets 1945 (@Ludogorets1945) July 12, 2021
Similarly to the first match, neither of these sides have ever played each other before this round of qualifying. Regardless, Shakhtyor did have a great run of form in May and early June, but have not won in their last two matches across the Champions League and their domestic competition. Meanwhile, aside from some club friendlies, this is only Ludogorts second competitive match of the year. I think freshness will play a factor in this match which is why I favor the Ludogorets moneyline.
Pick: Ludogorets moneyline (-118)
Valur Reykjavik vs Dinamo Zagreb Prediction
Lastly, the final Champions League qualifier to discuss this week is the second leg of Valur vs Dinamo Zagreb. This match is being played in Reykjavik, Iceland, which makes for an awfully long journey from Croatia. Nonetheless, if this Champions League qualifier comes anywhere near the levels of the reverse fixture, fans are in for a treat. Zagreb took a 3-0 lead into the last two minutes only for Valur to bring two back, making for a scintillating finish.
Off to Reykjavik ✈💙⚽️💪🏻😎 #dinamozagreb
📷 Marko Lukunić/Pixsell pic.twitter.com/ICSOE9ZucZ
— GNK Dinamo (@gnkdinamo) July 12, 2021
Dinamo Zagreb have more players returning from Euro 2020, and overall they proved in the first 88 minutes of the last match, they are simply in a different class compared to Valur.
Pick: Dinamo Zagreb -1.5 (-132)
Josh Ricker is a freelance sports journalist, currently attending the University of Southern Maine (Bachelor of Science in Sports Management and Marketing). He has recently interned with the AA Portland Sea Dogs, and his work has been featured on Fansided, as well as now here on SBD.