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UEFA Champions League Betting Preview: FC Copenhagen vs Sparta Prague
August 15, 2023
Spooky Express previews Tuesday's Champions League qualifier between Sparta Prague and FC Copenhagen, including prediction, team news and possible starting lineups.
After a goalless first leg in the Danish capital last week, Sparta Prague take on FC Copenhagen in the Champions League third qualifying round second leg at the Letná Stadium on Tuesday night.
Thus, the Czech champions avoided a third consecutive defeat against FC Copenhagen, with the Danish side winning both matches in their previous meeting in the 2009-10 Europa League group stage. Sparta Prague are yet to score against FC Copenhagen, though.
Both domestic giants continued their unbeaten run in all competitions this season and they are aiming to expand it further, yet only one of them will have the chance to advance in Europe’s elite competition. The winner of this tie will face either Raków Cz?stochowa of Poland or Aris Limassol of Cyprus in the Champions League playoff round.
Sparta Prague Betting Preview (+120 at BetOnline)
Having ended a miserable nine-year period without a Czech top-flight title to their name last term, Sparta Prague are now bidding to reap the benefits of their revival under Danish manager Brian Priske as they aim to reach the Champions League groups for the first time since 2005-06.
The 0-0 draw in Copenhagen means that Sparta have ended their four-game losing streak in European away games and even though they have won just one of their last 16 games on the road (losing 13), it was a favorable outcome that could be crucial at the end.
Unbeaten in five matches across all competitions this season (4-1-0), Brian Priske's side scored five goals on their trip to Jablonec on Saturday and all of them came before the break. Thus, Sparta saved a lot of energy for the upcoming crucial Champions League clash with the Danish champions as they remain top of the table in the Czech Championship (level on points with arch rivals Slavia, but superior on goal difference).
Jan Kuchta and Lukas Haraslín should both retain their spots in Sparta Prague's front line but domestic forward Jakub Pesek and Bulgarian forward Martin Minchev, who scored his first goal of the season against Jablonec, are also pushing for starts at Veljko Birman?evi?'s expense.
Martin Vitik, who was brought on as a second-half substitute in Copenhagen, scored twice against Jablonec at the weekend and the young Czech defender will be eager to start in the second leg.
Elsewhere, Albanian midfielder Qazim Laçi bagged a hat-trick of assists against Jablonec and already boasts four assists in as many league games this season. However, he was only introduced as a late second-half substitute at Parken last week and Brian Priske could be tempted to field him here.
Kaan Kairinen did a wonderful job on Saturday as he scored one goal and set up two more before being rested at the break, so the Finland international should keep his starting spot in the middle, while Laçi and Lukas Sadilek are in contention to start.
FC Copenhagen Betting Preview (+247 at BetOnline)
Unlike their Czech counterparts, FC Copenhagen kicked-off their Champions League campaign from the second qualifying round as they breezed past Icelandic champions Breidablik with a 8-3 aggregate win.
Jacob Neestrup fielded a strong lineup when his side claimed a 2-1 home win over Odense BK in the Danish Superliga on Friday night.
All in all, The Lions are yet to lose a game this season, winning six of their seven matches in all competitions so far. They boast a perfect 4-0-0 record in the Danish top-flight, level on 12 points with FC Nordsjælland, who have a better goal difference though.
Georgian defender Davit Khocholava and experienced Danish forward Andreas Cornelius are both injured for FC Copenhagen, while new signing Birger Meling has just signed with the club and is ineligible to play in Prague.
Versatile Dutch defender Kevin Diks started at center-back in the first leg and could keep his starting spot alongside Slovak international Denis Vavro.
Jacob Neestrup substituted his attacking trident over the course of the first leg and could be tempted to reshuffle his starting side in Prague. Diogo Goncalves could start in a more advanced role, while teenager Roony Bardghji could drop to the bench with summer signing Mohamed Elyounoussi likely to start up front.
Meanwhile, experienced Swedish international Viktor Claesson recovered from an injury to take part in the reverse match and the FC Copenhagen captain finally enjoyed his first start of the season in Friday's clash with Odense.
Despite his hat-trick in a 6-3 win over his father's club Breidablik, 18-year-old Orri Oskarsson was left on the bench for last week's first leg and also failed to impact his side's victory over OB, so Jordan Larsson may be given the nod up top here.
Possible Starting Lineups of Sparta Prague and FC Copenhagen
Sparta Prague: Peter Vindahl Jensen - Martin Vitík, Filip Panák, Ladislav Krej?í - Jan Mejdr, Kaan Kairinen, Qazim Laçi, Jaroslav Zelený - Veljko Birman?evi?, Jan Kuchta, Lukas Haraslín. (3-4-3)
FC Copenhagen: Kamil Grabara - Elias Jelert, Denis Vavro, Kevin Diks, Christian Sörensen - Viktor Claesson, William Clem, Rasmus Falk - Mohamed Elyounoussi, Jordan Larsson, Diogo Gonçalves. (4-3-3)
Spooky Express Betting Prediction
The Maroons looked more settled for a low-scoring first round but they will likely have to show more attacking intent and open up more spaces if they are to keep their Champions League dream alive.
FC Copenhagen, on the other hand, have their own chances and should not be underestimated. The 2-0 win at Breidablik last month was their first away win in the Champions League since July 2019 (0-2-3 since) but the Lions had to face teams like Borussia Dortmund, Manchester City and Sevilla in last year’s group stage and you can't compare these games.
It was a goalless first game just one week ago, indeed. However, both sides have much more attacking potential to offer and we expect goals in the second leg.
Spooky Express Free Play: Over 2½ Goals -102 at BetOnline for 6/10 Units
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