Champions League is knocking at the doors as the qualification playoffs are on the go. Several teams will confront each other to finalize a spot on the group stage. As the first legs have already been over, and teams being in the losing side, will try to diminish the deficit to play the prestigious competition. This time, there will be five fate-deciding matches- Dinamo Zagreb vs. Skenderbeu, Maccabi Tel Aviv vs. Basel, Malmoe vs. Celtic, Monaco vs. Valencia, Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Rapid Wien.
Dinamo Zagreb vs. Skenderbeu:
The Croatian league winner Dinamo Zagreb will host the Albanian side Skenderbeu in the second leg of the Champions League playoffs. Both teams have equal portions of opportunities to qualify for the group stage as the deficit is just a narrow 2-1 when Dinamo beat Skenderbeu at their home.
If Skenderbeu manages to beat Dinamo, they will be the first Albanian club to play in the Champions League. Skenderbeu is on the verge of creating a history; only one step behind to pull off an outstanding feat.
Dinamo defeated the Albanian side by a narrow margin with a decisive late scoring, which came from Josip Pivaric in the extra-time. Their past home record in the UEFA playoffs are not something astounding as they lost two matches out of six appearances keeping up a deficit of 2-0. This can instill some confidence in the Albanian side.
But the Croatian side never yet to experience any defeat from any Albanian team which can worry Skenderbeu coach.
The match will be held at the Zagreb’s home ground Maksimir at the 19:45 GMT+1.
Maccabi Tel Aviv vs. Basel:
The Israeli side Maccabi Tel Aviv will host Switzerland outfit Basel in the second leg of the Champions League playoffs. Tel Aviv managed to snatch a crucial draw in the opening leg, which gained the away-goal advantage. Late time equalizer from Eran Zahavi got them a 2-2 draw.
Basel boss Murat Yakin has the past experience of eliminating Paulo Sousa’s side. Their recent victory against them came in 2013-14 season when they defeated Tel Aviv in the Champions League’s qualifying stage. Basel hold an undefeated record against the Maccabi Tel Aviv as they won two and drew three.
After losing to CFR Cluj in 2012-13, Basel is yet to face a defeat in UEFA qualifying stage. They now on a 5 straight win streak with only a draw that came against their opponent in the last match.
Tel Aviv’s only win over Basel came in 1997 in the UEFA Intertoto Cup, since then they couldn’t beat Basel. On the other hand, Basel never lost a match in Israel.
The match will be held at the Bloomfield stadium at 19:45 GMT+1.
Malmo vs. Celtic:
Malmo will host the Celtic in the second leg of the Champions League playoffs. In the first leg they lost the match by 3-2 deficit, but managed to score two very important away goals. This will help them in the home match as they will have to keep a 1-0 lead to secure a place in the group stage of the Champions League. The Swedish champions scored in the last minute of the first leg to reduce the deficit to 3-2.
The match will be held at Malmo’s SwedbankStadion at 19:45 GMT+1.
Monaco vs. Valencia:
Monaco will host the Spanish side Valencia in the second leg of the Champions League playoffs. Having won the first leg 3-1, Valencia will most likely qualify for the group stage of the Champions League.
Leonardo Jardim will have to think about their forwards who are very unproductive in front of the d-box. He will expect his strikers to produce goals, if his side really want to secure a pass the qualifying round. Having lost the previous match 3-1, Monaco will have to perform an amazing feat to make a comeback. Their only advantage is that they have an important away goal.
The match will be held at the Stade Louis II at 19:45 GMT+1.
Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Rapid Wien:
The Ukrainian outfit Shakhtar Donetsk will host Rapid Wien in the second leg of the Champions League playoffs. Having won the first leg, Shakhtar have the potential opportunity to qualify for the group stage. They won the away game by 1-0 deficit.
Shakhtar is yet to lose a match against any Austrian club; on the contrary, Rapid has lost four out of five matches they played against any Ukrainian side.
The match will be held at the L’viv Arena at 19:45 GMT+1.