Serbian champions may have been the favourites before the first leg, but that is no longer the case after they were completely outclassed and beaten 1-0 by AEL Limasol.
Partizan Belgrade have long ago established total domination on domestic stage and their run of five successive league titles is pretty impressive, but the fans are hoping for some European success as well.
The squad have been reinforced over the summer, with Goran Lovre, Branko Pauljevic and Stefan Scepovic all arriving, while several talented youngsters were promoted from Teleoptik, their B side.
As a result, Partizan looked really good against Valletta from Malta, but they were completely outplayed by AEL Limasol in the third qualifying round.
The Serbs just couldn’t cope with the speed and strength of the African players in the Cypriot side and I, therefore, see no value in odds of 1.86 (43/50) offered by Betfair on home win.
Coach Vladimir Vermezovic is expected to make a couple of changes to the starting line-up, with Lazar Markovic likely to come in for Goran Lovre.
Probable starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Stojkovic – Aksentijevic, Ostojic, Ivanov, Volkov – S. Markovic, Babovic – Tomic, Ilic, L. Markovic – S. Scepovic.
AEL Limasol shocked everyone by beating APOEL and Omonia to the league title last season, but the Cypriot side didn’t need a lot of time they fully deserve to be playing at this level.
With no major arrivals or departures in the summer, boss Pambos Christodoulou didn’t need extra time to prepare his squad for the Champions League qualifying rounds and his side eased off to a 3-0 aggregate win over Linfield.
AEL were then pitted against very good Partizan side, but the Cypriots largely impressed in the first leg and deserved to win the game by a bigger margin.
The team that conceded just 10 goals in 32 league games last term kept their third successive clean sheet in the Champions League, meaning that Djilli Vouho’s early goal proved enough for a valuable victory.
Following such a good showing in the first leg, AEL have got to be considered favourites to go through, as witnessed by odds of 1.40 (2/5) offered at Paddy Power on the Cypriots to qualify.
The visitors are likely to revert to 4-5-1 formation for the match in Belgrade and they are 4.10 (31/10) with BetVictor to keep their fourth successive clean sheet.
Probable starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Degra – Marco Airosa, Dossa Junior, Ouon, Carlitos – Dede, Bebe – Monteiro, Nikolaou, Gilberto – Dickson.