The second qualifying round of the 2018/19 Champions League gets underway this week, with some big names entering the competition. Ajax, who have won the trophy four times, finished second in the Eredivisie and will have to see off Sturm Graz over two legs and then a further two teams if they are to make it into the group stage of the continent’s biggest club competition.
The Dutch outfit have just re-signed Daley Blind from Manchester United and the versatile defender could make his competitive second debut at the Amsterdam Arena on Wednesday night. Erik ten Hag’s squad have yet to peak in their pre-season friendlies so far, though, and have won just once since the end of their league campaign in May.
As the home side, Ajax will clearly expect to take a lead into the second leg, which takes place on 1st August. It will be particularly important to not concede an away goal against their Austrian opponents, but they have failed to keep a clean sheet in four friendlies, so an improvement is needed.
Sturm Graz have the potential to be tricky opposition, despite being underdogs with the bookmakers. They were also runners-up in their domestic league, the Austrian Bundesliga, and unlike their opponents have been strong in their friendlies. Recent results include wins over Copenhagen and Middlesbrough, while they also advanced to the second round of the Austrian Cup with victory over ASV Siegendorf.
Therefore, Heiko Vogel, who is entering his first full season with the club, will believe that they can cause an upset as they look to ultimately reach the Champions League group stage for the first time since the 2000/01 season.
Tipbet have odds for all this season’s European matches, with season bets already available on the Champions League and Europa League, with Manchester City and Chelsea respective favourites. For this second qualifying round meeting in the Netherlands, Ajax have the odds heavily in their favour and are 1.35 to outright win the first-leg. Sturm Graz are at 8.00, though a draw (4.60) would give them a good chance of advancing next week. In total there are 92 match markets to bet on.