Sturm Graz take on Dinamo Kiev in the UCL Third Qualifying Round on Wednesday and they look a good be to triumph in the Champions League preliminaries.
Who do Bettors Favor?
Checking out the best-rated online sportsbooks we can see that Dinamo Kiev are rated as the strong favorites to win their first leg tie against Austrian side Sturm Graz. Kiev are the +113 favorites, while Sturm Graz are priced at +260 and the draw is available at +240.
|Dinamo Kiev v Sturm Graz|
How do the UCL Qualifying Rounds Work?
Are you sure you want to know how the qualifying rounds work? Well, okay then, here goes. This week’s first leg fixtures are in the Third Qualifying Round and feature twenty teams divided into two Paths: the Champions Path and the League Path. From this stage, six winners will go forwards to the Champions Path playoffs, where they will be joined by two teams that earned a bye to that stage and four teams will progress to the League Path play-offs.
If that all sounds unnecessarily complicated to you, don’t worry, it is. In the pre-Champions League era it was simple. Win your national league and you qualify for the European Cup. This convoluted qualifying process is the result of UEFA having to balance the desire of every team in Europe wanting to be in the Champions League and the fact that the big teams only want to be playing other big clubs. Fortunately, for the purposes of betting, all you need to know is that victory at this stage gives a team a chance of being in the Premier League proper, while defeat ends that hope for another year.
Dinamo Kiev v Sturm Graz, 2022-08-03
Given the situation in Ukraine, Dinamo Kiev have been forced to play their home games in Poland and they face a tough opponent in Sturm Graz here. Several international players have left Ukraine under new FIFA rules, which means that head coach Mircea Lucescu has kept his first-team core together.
Kiev is a club with a rich European history, but they have reached the Group Stages in the Champions League for two years running, though have not progressed further since 2000. And they face a huge challenge to progress ehre. Sturm Graz could not stop Red Bull Salzburg from winning the Austrian Bundesliga crown last season, but they made a strong start to the 2022-23 campaign when they beat the reigning champions 2-1 and are top of the Austrian Bundesliga.
Lucescu’s tight-knit squ0ad will once again be hard to beat, but with this game effectively being played at a neutral venue, Sturm Graz look underrated in the market.
Red Star Belgrade v Pyunik, 2022-08-03
Red Star Belgrade go into this game as overwhelming favorites although this will be their first Champions League fixture of the season, while Armenian league champions Pyunik have already progressed through two qualifying rounds to get this far. Victories over CFR Cluj and Dudelange has enabled Pyunik to build up some momentum in this competition, but this fixture presents a completely different level of difficulty.
The Serbian champions have not lost a competitive game since they were beaten by Rangers in their first-leg Europa League encounter last March. They have also started strongly in their domestic competition, winning four out of four, and scoring 17 times in the process. The visitors may be able to benefit from playing without pressure, but the class gap here is simply too big to make up. That said, the bookmakers are taking on chances with the home side and odds of -540 will be too tight for most bettors.
Qarabag v Ferencvaros, 2022-08-03
Ferencvaros won the Hungarian title by an impressive 12 points last season, but they face a tough test on Wednesday when they head east to take on Azerbaijan champions Qarabag.
Both teams have worked hard to gt to this stage. Ferencvaros overcame Slovan Bratislava and Tobol to get this fire, while Qarabag, the nine-time Azerbaijan league winners, beat Lech Poznan and FC Zurich. The victory over Zurich was particularly impressive as they matched the Swiss side throughout and overcame the disappointment of being taken to extra time to clinch the game in Zurich.
Qarabag have some European experience, finishing second in Group H of the Europa League last season and featuring in the Group stage of the 2017-18 Champions League and they will be determined to progress again. Still, Ferencvaros are a strong side, with a proud European history. They kicked off their domestic campaign with a 1-0 win at the weekend and although this can be a tough trip to one of UEFA’s easternmost nations, the Hungarian side can earn a first leg draw.