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Champions League Qualifying Playoff Leg 1 Odds & Picks: Youngs Boys vs Ferencvaros, Benfica vs PSV & Malmo vs Ludogorets

Sam Cox

by Sam Cox in Soccer

Aug 18, 2021 · 4:16 AM PDT

Champions League
Ferencvaros' team players celebrate their side's second goal during the Champions League, second qualifying round soccer match between the Zalgiris and Ferencvaros at the LFF stadium in Vilnius, Lithuania, Tuesday, July 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)
  • The first legs of the latest round of Champions League qualifying playoff rounds take place this week
  • Our attention is on the matches kicking off on Wednesday, August, 18th
  • Read below for the latest odds, betting previews and picks

Domestic campaigns are underway, and a select few teams are already battling with the intensity of continental football. Champions League qualifying can make or break a season in the opening weeks. The first legs of this playoff round of qualifying get underway on Tuesday, though it’s the matches on Wednesday, August, 18th which get our focus here.

Young Boys host Hungarian club Ferencvaros, while the biggest tie of the round sees Benfica take on PSV Eindhoven.

Malmo, looking to make the Champions League group stage for the first time since 2015-16, go toe-to-toe with Ludogorets, who surprisingly knocked out Olympiakos in the last round.

Champions League Playoff Leg 1 Odds

Matchup Home Draw Away
Young Boys vs Ferencvaros -190 +310 +350
Benfica vs PSV +110 +255 +240
Malmo vs Ludogorets -105 +245 +310

Odds as of Aug 17 at DraftKings

Young Boys vs Ferencvaros Prediction

Ferencvaros became the first Hungarian team to reach the Champions League group stage in over a decade last season. It’s a tall order to reach the Champions League proper again in 2021 with a challenging tie against Young Boys. The Swiss club are -330 favorites to advance.

David Wagner has enjoyed a good start in Europe as Young Boys manager. Wins over Slovan Bratislava and Cluj in Champions League qualifying put them just a couple of good results away from the group stage draw. Their league form leaves plenty to be desired, however. It’s just four points from the opening three matches, though they regained some confidence with a 4-1 win against Littau in the cup at the weekend.

Making light work of Prishtina and Zalgiris in the early rounds, Ferencvaros showed great resilience to hold off Slavia Prague in the second leg of their last Champions League tie. They also notched their first league win of the season at the weekend with a dominant performance against Mezőkövesd even after falling behind early on.

Young Boys have had their problems at the playoff stage, falling at this point in three of the last five seasons. This is a favorable tie for the hosts, though, and they have looked very comfortable on the European stage so far. They’re a good bet even at -1.5.

Pick: Young Boys -1.5 (+155)

Benfica vs PSV Prediction

Neither of these teams featured in the group stage last season. They are two of Europe’s biggest clubs, though, and it is peculiar to think that one of them will be knocked out at this stage. The tie kicks off in Lisbon at the intimidating Estadio da Luiz on Wednesday, and the bookies can’t split them at the moment with both teams at -115 to advance.

It’s a battle of perfection. Benfica have won all four of their competitive matches this season, while PSV owns a 100% record across their six matches. The Dutch club has been in fine form, cruising past FC Midtjylland and Galatasaray in Champions League qualification and handing out a 4-0 thumping of Ajax in the Johan Cruyff Shield. Benfica, meanwhile, made it look easy against Spartak Moscow in the last round.

These sides haven’t matched up since a Europa League tie in 2010-11. It was an entertaining contest back then, and while the squads are barely recognizable, it’s fair to expect another thriller. Even with key injuries on both sides, there’s plenty of talent on show.

Jorge Jesus and Roger Schmidt have seen some great attacking football from their teams so far this term. Benfica have scored eight goals across their last four matches, and PSV have been prolific in the Champions League. Over 2.5 is the obvious bet.

Pick: Over 2.5 total goals (-120)

Malmo vs Ludogorets Prediction

Seeing off Rangers in the last round, Malmo come into this tie as narrow favorites to progress. The Swedish club are -140 to advance at DraftKings. Their league form has taken a bit of a hit despite their Champions League success, which isn’t an issue Ludogorets have had to deal with.

The Bulgarian side hasn’t had to contemplate a league match since their dramatic penalty shootout triumph against Olympiakos.

Drawing with Halmstad and losing to IFK Goteborg has already seen Malmo drop off the pace domestically. Knocking out Rangers is obviously the proudest moment of their season to date. While they showed toughness and energy to see off Riga FC and HJK Helsinki, the performances were not exactly dominant. Each tie has been hard-fought. This should be a fiercely competitive matchup at Eleda Stadion with both teams seeing it as an amazing opportunity to reach the group stage.

The extra rest and preparation time should work in Ludogorets’ favor here. They have only played two matches so far this month, and while home advantage is a very real factor for Malmo, there’s value backing Ludogorets to avoid defeat.

Pick: Ludogorets win or draw (-115)

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