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Betting Blog: Champions League

The Champions League is the focus this week with Celtic in action in third round qualifying.

It's still July and the sun's shining but the Champions League is well under way and this week sees a total of 15 third round qualifying matches. Judging how good most European sides are likely to be at this time of year is about as easy as judging how motivated teams are in pre-season.

However, unlike friendlies, the lure of the Champions League is so great that you can be sure the sides will be going for it this week. Tuesday night sees Hungarian champions Debrecen FC taking on BATE Barisov of Belarus and I am struggling to work out why Debrecen are so big as 19/10 to win the first leg in Hungary.

Home advantage is a massive bonus at any time of year but particularly when it's at this stage of the season. Now Barisov have won the Belarusian league title for the past eight years and are clearly a decent outfit. But in two-legged affairs, the away team is always happy with a draw in the first leg and are less likely to go hell-for-leather when they know they have a home leg to come.

On the other hand, the home side know they need to attack and therefore, their attacking intent is key. Neither side were hugely impressive in their second qualifying round so this could well be a close affair. A lot of these qualifying games are tight and with one like this, where the two teams are closely matched, it's doubly so. Bet365 go 19/10 on the home side and that's a good call.

There are some high-profile teams in action this week including Celtic, who play away to Legia Warsaw. The Poles have been improving lately and the Scots are likely to have a battle on their hands.

Bet365 make Celtic favourites at 6/4 but it's asking a lot for them to go to Poland and win. On the other hand, Legia Warsaw are no world-beaters and though Celtic may not get a win, a draw is highly possible, so take Bet365's offer of 11/5.

If you're looking for a certainty (if there is such a thing in football) then try Steaua Bucharest at 11/10 to win at FC Aktobe. The Romanians have a rich history in Europe's biggest club competitions and should have enough to get a win against the Kazakh champions. Ends