Champions League Wednesday predictions: Slovan to start with victory

Aidan Perkins
Spotlight
Vladimir Weiss is hoping Slovan Bratislava can make a strong start
Vladimir Weiss is hoping Slovan Bratislava can make a strong start

There are seven Champions League first qualifying round first-leg ties tonight, with Slovakian champions Slovan Bratislava among those in action.

With two more qualifying rounds still to come after this one and then a play-off round before a spot in the group stage can be confirmed, the teams involved still have plenty of work to do.

Slovan Bratislava vs Dinamo Batumi (7.30pm BST

One of the more recognisable clubs playing in midweek are Slovan Bratislava, the most successful team in Slovakia with 16 league titles to their name.

They should be able to secure a comfortable first-leg lead against Georgian champions Dinamo Batumi. 

Slovan lost in the second qualifying round last season and were then subsequently dumped out of the Europa League at the play-off stage but they did feature in the Europa Conference League group stage, finishing third in Group F. 

That will have been viewed as a disappointment and they will be determined to enjoy a better season in Europe this time around, starting by getting past Dinamo Batumi over two legs. 

Batumi are just past the halfway point of their domestic campaign and sit top of the pile again in the Georgian top flight as they look to defend their title. 

The visitors come into this clash in fine form, winning their last four games, including a 4-1 home thrashing of second-placed Dinamo Tbilisi to move them nine points clear, but this is a step up. 

Slovan have only won one of their five friendlies in the build-up to this tie but their superior European knowhow and the fact they have home advantage for this first leg should result in a victory for Vladimir Weiss' side. 

Zrinjski Mostar vs FC Sheriff (7pm BST

FC Sheriff caused the shock of last year's Champions League group stage when the Moldovan minnows beat Real Madrid 2-1 at the Bernabeu in September. 

Despite that memorable result, they finished third in the group and dropped down to the Europa League, where they were knocked out by Braga.

They did go on to win the Moldovan league title, finishing six points clear at the top. 

Their 2022-23 European campaign starts with a trip to seven-time Bosnian and Herzegovina Premier League champions Zrinjski Mostar in their first outing since May 21, so they are unlikely to be at their best having not played any warm-up matches. 

The hosts, in contrast, won two friendlies last month and will hope to be sharper than the visitors as they look to make the second qualifying round of the Champions League for the first time since 2017-18. 

Sheriff are the favourites to come out on top but this is a tricky first assignment and the Bosnia and Herzegovina champions may just be able to claim a draw on home soil.

Bodo/Glimt vs Klaksvik (5pm BST

Kjetil Knutsen led Bodo/Glimt to the quarter-finals of the Europa Conference League last season
Kjetil Knutsen led Bodo/Glimt to the quarter-finals of the Europa Conference League last season

Norwegian champions Bodo/Glimt are expected to brush aside Faroe Islands side Klaksvik in their first leg. 

Having won the 2021 Eliteserien in their homeland, Bodo/Glimt made it all the way to the quarter-finals of the Europa Conference League last season, beating Celtic and AZ on the way before gallantly going down to eventual winners Roma. 

After 12 matches of their domestic season so far they sit down in a disappointing sixth place. 

But they have won four of their last five games overall and should have far too much for Klaksvik.

The Faroe Islands outfit are playing at this preliminary stage of the Champions League for only the fourth time in their history and have never got past the second qualifying round. 

Even though Klaksvik are top of the league and have won their last four domestic matches, Bodo/Glimt represent a much stiffer test and the Norwegians should dominate this first leg from the outset.

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