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Five Champions League play-offs tips featuring Man City and Celtic

| 17.08.2016

Lee Gormley | August 15, 2016

Five Champions League play-offs tips for first legs

There are still obstacles in the way of some of Europe’s big names before reaching the Champions League group stage this season, with a host of play-off first leg encounters taking place this midweek.

Among those sides is Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, with the Spaniard getting his first crack at European action with the Sky Blues following a successful Premier League debut, while Scottish Premiership champions Celtic continue their ventures too.

So, ahead of the match-ups across the continent, Coral outline five Champions League play-offs tips featuring the big names at this decisive stage…

Aguero to strike first again against Steaua Bucharest

Manchester City v Sunderland - Premier League - Etihad Stadium

A new era began for Man City under Guardiola last weekend, as the Sky Blues rallied to a narrow 2-1 victory over David Moyes’ Sunderland, and it was reliable Argentine frontman Sergio Aguero that opened proceedings.

The clinical City marksman, the highest scoring South American in Premier League history, picked up where he left off last season at the Etihad, having dispatched 30 goals in 52 outings for club and country.

Next up is a European encounter with Steaua Bucharest, the first ever meeting between the two teams, and Aguero can be backed at a promising 3/1 with Coral to once again open the scoring in Romania.

Griffiths to bag Bhoys brace or better

Heart of Midlothian v Celtic - Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership - Tynecastle

Scottish champions Celtic, now under the guidance of former Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers, have already had to come through two early qualifying ties to reach this stage, and will be aiming to make a strong start in this first leg against Israeli outfit Hapoel Beer-Sheva.

The Glasgow giants managed to avoid a major upset against Lincoln Red Imps before edging past Astana, with pivotal poacher Leigh Griffiths having struck in both ties, netting both home and away in the latter clashes.

Griffiths now has three strikes in five outings already this term, after reaching the 40-goal mark last campaign, and the Hoops finisher is a tasty 4/1 to dispatch two or more this time out at Parkhead.

Dundalk to secure home draw against Warsaw

Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Second Qualifying Round - Second Leg - Dundalk v BATE Borisov - Oriel Park

Earlier in their European ventures, Dundalk became the first Irish side in history to reach the Champions League play-offs, as they shocked BATE Borisov 3-1 on aggregate in the previous round of qualifying.

Next up they tackle Polish challengers Legia Warsaw, but are boosted by home territory in this first leg match-up, and the reigning League of Ireland champions are 23/10 to hold their opponents to a draw at the Oriel Park.

The country Louth side will also come into the biggest game in the club’s history with plenty of momentum, with the Irish season having already kicked off way back in March, and they impressively haven’t lost on home soil in 90 minutes for 11 outings.

Porto to down Roma and both sides score

Vitesse Arnhem v FC Porto - GelreDome Tournament - Gelredome Stadium

This European clash will represent a season opener for Serie A giants Roma, while Portuguese titans Porto have already got their domestic campaign underway, having successfully earned a comfortable win over Rio Ave.

The Dragons conceded in that Primeira Liga triumph too, and will enter their play-off encounter at 4/1 to secure another victory with both teams getting on the scoresheet at the Estadio do Dragao, in what could be a thrilling clash.

Monaco to overcome Villarreal on their travels

France Soccer League One

Villarreal are also yet to start their new season, with La Liga not kicking off until Friday, though Ligue 1 outfit Monaco have already started proceedings, having drawn their domestic opener but had to battle hard past Fenerbahce in their previous Champions League qualifier.

The Principality outfit were toppled 2-1 in the first leg but gallantly fought back to triumph 3-1 over their Turkish opponents to set up this meeting with the Yellow Submarine, who they 10/3 to sink on their travels to El Madrigal.

After gaining some momentum with three games under their belt already this term, Leonardo Jardim’s men will be confident of gaining the upper hand in this meeting, against a Spanish side making their first outing this season.


Read our extensive Champions League archive for all the latest European news and tips.

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Lee Gormley

Lee joined the Coral team in 2014 after studying at Leeds Trinity University, having moved across the water from Ireland, and has plenty of industry experience from his time with various news outlets in both England and Northern Ireland. After graduating with a BA Honours degree in Sports Journalism, he has since become an important member of the talented sports desk, passionately covering boxing, football and snooker, among many other sports. Lee is also a massive Manchester United and Republic of Ireland fan, but curbs any bias during his work, and outside of his job can be found regularly taking part in sport himself, such as boxing, GAA and football.