Verdict: Over 2.5 goals
Best Odds: 3/5
Two sides who are looking to move one step closer to securing a lucrative spot in the group stages of this year’s Champions League, The New Saints will welcome Danish outfit FC Copenhagen to the Park Hall Stadium on Tuesday night.
The New Saints
Starting with the hosts, while the New Saints may have left it incredibly late out in Kosovo last week, Scott Ruscoe’s side secured a 3-2 win over Feronikeli and the mood in their camp is on a continued high. Enjoying a double-winning season in Wales’ top-tier, including holding a commanding 12-point buffer over Connah’s Quay Nomads on route to retaining their Premier League crown, the Saints will also know that if they can come through Tuesday’s incredibly tough test they will either meet Red Star Belgrade or HJK Helsinki in the Champions League third qualifying round. However, while fans around the Park Hall Stadium have seen their side win four of their last five contests and remarkably enjoying an unbeaten run that stems back to the 11th of November, TNS have previously struggled on home soil when it comes to their European exploits. While they may have managed to snatch a 2-2 draw against the little-known Feronikeli earlier in the month, the Welsh outfit have won just one of their last six Champions League appearances in Shropshire.
TNS have no fresh personnel concerns and are thus expected to line up much as they did against Feronikeli a week ago.
As for the visitors, while a woeful run of form at the back end of last season appeared to follow into FC Copenhagen’s pre-season preparations, Head Coach Ståle Solbakken will be glad to see that his side have started their Danish title defence with back-to-back victories. Securing a hard-fought 2-1 win at home to AGF last weekend, the 13-time Superliga champions also eventually finished 11 points clear of second-placed Midtjylland, who Saints lost to in last season’s Europa League. Although the Danish giants may be glad to make a return to winning ways, the one-time Wolves boss still has some defensive issues that need resolving. Copenhagen have now managed to record just a single clean sheet since the 28th of April, a 10-match run. While the Danish outfit may also hold far more European pedigree than their hosts in midweek, fans around the Telia Parken have huge concerns over their sides’ continued issues on the road. Aside from a scrappy 3-2 win over OB earlier in the month, Copenhagen have lost their other four matches on the road, including a humiliating 4-0 hammering away at Midtjylland back in May.
Copenhagen could continue to be without the services of both Nicolai Boilesen and Nikolaj Thomsen. Pieros Sotiriou could come back into the starting XI.
Key Factors to Consider
- The New Saints have won just one of their last six Champions League matches on home soil.
- FC Copenhagen have lost four of their last five matches on the road.
- Eight of the last 11 combined matches between the two sides have seen over 2.5 goals at full-time.
- FC Copenhagen have failed to record a clean sheet in any of their last five contests.
- TNS have recorded just a pair of clean sheets at Park Hall Stadium in their last seven matches across all competitions.
On paper, this has all the makings of a matchup that should produce plenty of chances. While the defending Danish champions do hold far more European experience, Copenhagen have struggled with both defensive issues and some very worrying performances on the road. Although they will be an overwhelming underdog despite holding home advantage in the first-leg and enjoying an unbeaten run that stems back to November, there is no doubt that the mood in TNS camp will be on a high. Given that eight of the last 11 combined matches between the two sides have seen over 2.5 goals at full-time, we’re backing another lively encounter in midweek.
Verdict: Over 2.5 goals
Best Odds: 3/5
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