The Champions League and Europa League qualifying fixtures are set to be played this week. Here are a few things to expect from some of the matches.
Benfica to call on experience
Fenerbahce will make a return to the Champions League after two years of absence. Their first match will be away to Benfica, who unlike last season are kicking off life in the third round of qualifying after failing to retain the Portuguese league title. The hosts have a clear advantage given their brilliant European record over the years. Fenerbahce for their part, have lost their last three trips on the road in this competition. This will not help their cause against a Benfica side that are eager to exploit their experience to qualify for the next round. Nonetheless, we can expect a fairly good contest as both teams have quality players.
Ajax eagerness to return to Europe
Ajax had a smooth ride in the last round of the Champions League qualifiers, but they will be pushed further in this round against Standard Liege. The Belgian outfit are in Europe following a four-year absence and a good impression would be desirable for their home fans. It goes without saying that they are unfancied against their Dutch opponents who will be pushing to make it to the fourth round of qualifiers. Their early exit in the Champions League and the Europa League in the qualifying phase last year will be at the back of their minds and they should have enough to get a good result here.
Odsonne Edouard to score for Celtic
Brendan Rodgers has instilled a level of consistency in Celtic over the last two seasons and he will be out to build on that when they host AEK. They have an incredible record at this stage of the competition having qualified in the last two consecutive campaigns to the group stage. In fact, they have won three of four qualifiers already, whilst they ended up with four wins from six last term before the group stage. Odsonne Edouard has been brilliant for them since joining from PSG and we should expect him to feature strongly. Hopefully, he will add to his tally of three goals in three qualifiers so far.
Burnley look to march on
Burnley have the prospect of playing either Olympiakos or Luzern if they overcome Istanbul Basaksehir in their play-off tie. This is an exciting period for the Clarets who are back in the European stage after a 51-year absence. Sean Dyche is responsible for their recent success and he will be thinking of how to go past their opposition. It is worth noting that Basaksehir have more experience on the continental stage in comparative terms. The English side should be accompanied by a huge number of their fans and this should give them enough motivation to fight for a good result.
Easy home fixture for RB Leipzig
RB Leipzig and Romanian side CS Universitatea Craiova will be meeting for the very first time this week. There is an apparent difference in the quality of the two sides and as such, the German outfit should have a fairly easy match in front of their own fans. They won their last qualifying round 5-1 on aggregate against Swedish opposition Hacken. This looks like another challenge Leipzig will have no problem putting away comfortably.