The third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League produces some interesting match ups in midweek and this is one of them. This will be the first meeting between the two clubs and at this stage of qualification, this is where the competition splits up into the champions and the league routes.
This is the league route, which means that neither won their league last season. CSKA Moscow were beaten out by Spartak Moscow, while AEK finished fourth in the Greek Super League.
It is a funny old game though indeed because you generally find stronger teams in the League Route than in the Champions Route. That’s because you have a lot of weaker league winners from smaller nations in the Champions Route, while bigger clubs who just missed out on domestic titles go in the League Route and most of them are from higher ranked league across the continent. So with that cleared up, let’s dig into this first leg where the Russians are 13/8 with William Hill to win on the road, with AEK Athens at 7/4 to claim a home victory.
AEK Athens Form
Just back in 2013 AEK Athens, the Greek side were relegated to the second division. But they have bounced back to have a shot at getting back into the main draw for the UEFA Champions League. This will be their first action back actually in Europe since they were beaten at this stage by Villarreal back in the 2007/08 campaign. Also for the Greeks, this will be their first competitive action ahead of the new season, which may hamper then because CSKA are already up and running.
CSKA Moscow Form
The Russians have already kicked off recently in their new domestic season and that extra match sharpness is bound to have some kind of benefit for them in this one. In the new season, they have opened slowly with a win and a defeat from their two games played, getting hammered 3-0 by Lokomotiv Moscow in their second game. CSKA Moscow were in the main draw of the UEFA Champions League last season, so you may remember their clashes with Tottenham from that. The Russians didn’t win any of their group games though (D3 L3) but a nod towards them is that they haven’t dropped down to the Europa League since the 2012/13 season. So they are frequent competitors here.
As mentioned above this is the first meeting between the two clubs here however, you have a couple of key stats to look at. AEK Athens have failed to win any of their last nine games against Russian opposition in a pretty shoddy D2 L7 record. The Greeks have also lost their last four games on home soil in European competition. CSKA have faced Greek opposition before, edging past PAOK 2-1 on aggregate back in the 2010/11 Europa League round of 32.
Top Betting Tips
The Russians look the stronger of the two and they should be able to benefit from having played those recent competitive games on the domestic front. The Greeks are short of a bit of quality at this level and that has shown in their inability to win at home in Europe. CSKA to edge a win to nil in this one looks strong value at 11/4 with William Hill.