We have reached the second round qualifying stage of the 2019/20 Champions League. It doesn’t seem long ago we were watching the 2018/19 final between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur but the road to Istanbul started in June.
On Tuesday 23rd July we have a second round qualifying, first leg game between Viktoria Plzen and Olympiakos Pireus to enjoy. Both teams have come through the League Path, which is for non-champions and means neither team won their domestic title last season.
Viktoria Plzen finished second in the Czech First League last season, 5 points behind champions Slavia Prague. They have started the domestic season in Czech Republic promisingly by winning their two games to date. They have defeated Sigma Olomouc at home and beat Slovan Liberec away on Friday night.
They played in the Champions League last season, featuring in a group containing Roma, Real Madrid and CSKA Moscow. They managed to pick up 7 points, defeating CSKA Moscow away and Roma at home, the latter of which was one of the biggest results in the history of the club.
However, trends show Viktoria Plzen have won only one of their last seven home Champions League matches. In addition to the win over Roma, they have been held to a draw by Qarabag, Ludogorets and CSKA Moscow. Both teams have scored in four of their last five home Champions League games and that could be their undoing in this tie.
Olympiakos are yet to begin their domestic competitive season and will have to wait until the end of August to try and win back the Greek Super League title. They have played several friendly games and have done well in many of those matches, winning three and drawing five, so Olympiakos have been busy ahead of this game.
They last played in the Champions League back in 2017/18, going out at the group stage of the competition. They failed to win a game, picking up just 1 point in a home draw with Barcelona. Trends show they have failed to win any of their last three away games in the competition, losing to Juventus, Barcelona and Sporting Lisbon.
However, all three of those clubs are a step up from Viktoria Plzen and Olympiakos managed to defeat both Partizan and Rijeka away from home on their way to the group stages in 2017. Both teams have scored in three of their last five away Champions League matches.
Team news and Viktoria Plzen will have to make do without experienced defender Roman Hubnik, who is injured. Every other player should be available.
Olympiakos have two injury concerns and Konstantinos Fortounis and Lazaros Christodoulopoulos will both miss out for the away team, with the former being a big miss.
This is going to be a closely fought game, with both teams believing they can come out on top. Past results suggest we could see both teams finding the back of the net in a low scoring draw.
PREDICTION : 1-1 DRAW
ACCUMULATOR TIP : VIKTORIA PLZEN DOUBLE CHANCE @ 1.38