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Champions League Wednesday predictions: Linfield to win at home
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Alex Jack
David Healy will be hoping Linfield can get past The New Saints
David Healy will be hoping Linfield can get past The New Saints

Tonight completes the first round of qualifying for the Champions League with six games taking place.

It is all or nothing in these second-leg showdowns, with the likes of Linfield, The New Saints, CFR Cluj and Maribor all hoping to book their place in the next round.

Shakhtyor Soligorsk vs Maribor (Wednesday, 6pm BST)

After a goalless stalemate in the first leg in Slovenia, it is all to play for as Shakhtyor Soligorsk host Maribor.

Belarusian outfit Shakhtyor will take plenty of confidence from their first-leg performance as they had the better of possession and more shots on target.

Team news

Shakhtyor withdrew forward Roman Yuzepchuk at half-time during the first leg due to an unspecified injury and there are doubts regarding his fitness — Igor Ivanovic could replace the Belarus international.

Maribor have no fresh injury concerns, but changes are expected up front after their lack of punch last week, with Rok Sirk and Zan Vipotnik both pushing for starts.

The stats

Last week's stalemate means Maribor have gone their last four Champions League qualifiers without a win and Shakhtyor will be looking to add to their woes in Europe.

Shakhtyor have failed to score in their last two matches but they were on a five-game winning run prior to that mini slump.


Another cagey affair can be expected between these two sides and it might just take one moment of brilliance or one big mistake to decide who progresses in this tie.

The under 1.5 goals market could be the way to go in this one, while a draw as a half-time result would come as no surprise.

CFR Cluj vs Pyunik (Wednesday, 7.30pm BST)

CFR Cluj have European qualifying experience behind them and they will need to use that to their advantage when they host Pyunik.

The Armenian outfit did well to hold Cluj to a goalless draw in the first leg but the Romanian side will be fancied to book their place in the second round.

Team news

Cluj have no fresh injury concerns, but forward Alexandru Paun, who started last week's first leg on the bench, is pushing for a start after scoring in Saturday's Romanian Super Cup loss to Sepsi OSK.

Pyunik also have a near fully fit squad to choose from, although centre-back Nikita Baranov is sidelined after undergoing surgery.

The stats

Cluj boss Dan Petrescu saw his side lose at the weekend but they are unbeaten in their last three home matches in the Champions League, registering two wins and a draw.

Pyunik have only won one of their last 11 away fixtures in Europe's premier club tournament, although they are currently on an 18-match unbeaten run in all competitions, so confidence should be high.

Cluj boss Dan Petrescu will be expecting a response from his players on Wednesday
Cluj boss Dan Petrescu will be expecting a response from his players on Wednesday


Petrescu will be determined to see a response from his players after the frustration of missing out on silverware in the Super Cup at the weekend and Pyunik could well be on the end of a backlash this evening. 

Cluj's impressive home record in Europe will be tested but the Romanians will ultimately expect to come out on top.

Linfield vs The New Saints (Wednesday, 7.45pm BST)

Linfield will be looking to the home crowd at Windsor Park to get behind them as they aim to overturn a 1-0 deficit in their second-leg clash with The New Saints.

Team news

Linfield are expected to stick with a similar XI to the one that started last week's first leg, with boss David Healy likely to keep faith with former Glentoran striker Robbie McDaid, who made his competitive debut for the club in Wales.

Declan McManus should be a key figure for The New Saints. 

The Scottish striker is expected to lead the line after being named Cymru Premier Player of the Season last term.

The stats

The Northern Irish side are unbeaten in their last nine competitive home games, winning seven of those and drawing the other two.

TNS have a slender advantage thanks to a goal from midfielder Ryan Brobbel with what was their only shot on target in the first leg, but that might not be enough to see them progress to the second round.


It was TNS who enjoyed the majority of possession on home soil in the first encounter but they might well see less of the ball at Windsor Park.

Looking to a Linfield win and over 2.5 goals in the game could be the way to go as the hosts look to make the most of home advantage to see off their Welsh opponents with a convincing victory.


Champions LeagueLinfieldTNSCFR ClujMariborShakhtyor SoligorskPyunik
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