The action is heating up in the Champions League qualifiers with some of Europe’s big names joining up in the third qualifying round and the matchup between Greek side AEK Athens and Russian heavyweights CSKA Moscow definitely is the one to keep an eye on.
The Big Comeback for AEK
The 11-time Greek champions have high hopes ahead of the new 2017/18 season. Having last participated in Europe’s elite competition ten years ago, AEK Athens are ready for the big comeback, but they face a big obstacle in the face of CSKA Moscow which will at the same time be a great test to their ability. Manuel Jimenez Jimenez’s second spell at the club is proving to be highly successful for the Spanish tactician who is expected to lead his men to glory after reinforcing his squad heavily during the summer transfer market. AEK Athens have gone through a lot over the past few years and have now laid solid foundations in efforts to avoid any trouble by bringing the likes of Uros Cosic, Marko Livaja, Helder Lopes, Arnor Traustatson, Viktor Klonaridis, Panagiotis Tsintotas and Giorgios Giakoumakis. The shrewd business moves saw AEK Athens recruit a talented batch of footballers for as little as one million euros and Manuel Jimenez Jimenez will now have all of his new players at disposal for the European challenge.
Anastosios Bakasetas is back in training after a knock, whereas Vassilios Lambropoulos is ruled out due to injury. The summer acquisition Viktor Klonaridis is also expected to be fully fit after his injury.
CSKA Moscow Already Up and Running
The Russian Premier League has already started and with two competitive matches already behind them, CSKA Moscow head into the European challenge in a much better form than their Greek rivals. The Red Army club were for many years the most powerful and popular club in Russia, but the dissolution of the Soviet Union slowly caused the shift in power and CSKA are not the team they once were. They are nevertheless more illustrious of the two sides involved in this Champions League third-round qualifier as the regular member of the group stage. Having gone through a difficult season in their domestic championship, CSKA Moscow appointed Victor Goncharenko as their new boss in December 2016 which ultimately proved to be a huge success given his tactical talents that have rejuvenated the team. CSKA Moscow have had a mixed start to the new season having beaten Anzhi 3-1 in the opening round, before succumbing to the same-result defeat six days later against Lokomotiv Moscow. The pressure of Europe has seemingly got under the players’ skin, but Goncharenko is expected to get his men ready for the challenge lying ahead.
The experienced defender Sergey Ignashevich is unavailable through injury, but CSKA Moscow will have no other selection issues for the upcoming fixture. Goncharenko is expected to field his strongest side with in-form Vitinho leading the line in attack.
AEK Athens are given a difficult challenge in the third round of qualification for the Champions League as the Greek side have been pitted against Russian powerhouse CSKA Moscow. The Russians travel to Greece with their domestic league well under way and that could be their biggest advantage. The heavily boosted Greek squad will hope to keep the Russian visitors at an arm’s length but with in-form Vitinho already firing, goals could be a wise choice here.
Top pick: Both teams to score – yes 2.20 (6/5) @Bet365
Alternative pick 1: CSKA Moscow 2.70 (17/10) @BetVictor
Alternative pick 2: Over 2.5 goals 2.65 (28/17) @Unibet