Champions League qualifying among top events of week

By Martin Green19 August 2018
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Champions League Playoffs

Just 12 teams remain standing in the Champions League qualifying campaign and we are now into the final round. Six will surge through to the group stage and enjoy a £30 million windfall, while the other six will end up devastated. The pick of the ties sees Portuguese runners-up Benfica take on Greek counterparts PAOK Saloniki, while Ajax v Dynamo Kiev also looks pretty tasty. Dutch champions PSV are well priced at 10/11 with William Hill to pick up a win away at BATE Borisov, while Young Boys host Dinamo Zagreb in an all-Swiss tie.

Premier League

Arsenal have lost their first two games of the season for the first time since 1990, and they are desperate for points. On Saturday they host West Ham, who have also slumped to back-to-back defeats, despite spending heavily in the summer. Arsenal to win and over 2.5 goals looks interesting at 21/20 with Betfred, as both teams have been defending terribly. Expect Liverpool to annihilate Brighton at Anfield, while Man City should overwhelm newly promoted Wolves at Molineux. Newcastle have made a shaky start to the season, and Chelsea have taken six points from a possible six, so the Blues look good at 77/100 with Marathon Bet to pick up a win at St James’s Park on Sunday.

European Leagues

There is action to look forward to in all the top European leagues, include La Liga, Serie A and the Bundesliga, which begins on Friday. The first game of the season sees champions Bayern Munich host Hoffenheim, and Bayern half-time/full-time looks tempting at 5/6 with Ladbrokes. Atletico Madrid look good to secure a victory against Rayo Vallecano, while Barcelona should thrash Valladolid. The pick of the action comes from Italy, where Juventus host Lazio and Napoli tangle with AC Milan in two high-profile games, with a home win double looking attractive.

T20 Blast

The quarter-finals of the T20 Blast take place on Thursday, and tournament favourites Kent look well priced at 10/11 with Sky Bet to secure a home win against a depleted Lancashire side. Sussex look like they could pick up an away win at Durham, while Somerset will fancy their chances at home to Nottinghamshire. Expect frenetic action, glorious work with the bat and magnificent catches on an action-packed evening.

Challenge Cup Final

Warrington are the heavy favourites to beat Catalans Dragons in the Challenge Cup final on Saturday, with Sky Bet offering a market leading 8/15. However, the majority of bets are being placed on Catalans Dragons, who are 21/10 outsiders with William Hill and Marathon Bet. Yet it is worth noting they have gone five games against Warrington without a win, and Warrington won 56-6 when they played one another a week ago.

Belgian Grand Prix

Formula 1 returns at the weekend following the summer break, and it will be intriguing to see how Daniel Ricciardo gets on. He stunned the sport during the break by announcing that he will leave Red Bull and join Renault at the end of the season, so the team could throw all their weight behind teammate Max Verstappen. Mercedes have dominated this race in recent years, and championship leader Lewis Hamilton looks really well priced at 6/4 with Paddy Power and Betfred to take the flag.