Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Zalgiris Vilnius vs Astana Champions League Football Match Preview And Prediction - July 14, 2016


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Astana may only have been founded in 2009 but they have come a very long way in a short time. Kazakh champions again last year they are hoping for a repeat of their excellent run in this competition 12 months ago. They saw off Maribor, HJK and APOEL to become the first Kazakh side to reach the group phase, where they avoided defeat in 4 of their 6 games so they do have genuine pedigree and are favourites to progress from this tie. Away from home though they aren’t so great and they only scored 2 goals on the road in 6 matches in this competition last year. They come into this game 12 points clear at the top of the Kazakh league, which is in full swing right now so they should be fully match sharp here.

┼Żalgiris are currently 2nd in the Lithuanian top flight but have won 5 of their last 6 games. They’ve had just over 2 weeks since their last competitive game so there could be a little rust to shake off but all in all they should come into the game with confidence.

However they don’t have a great recent record in Europe. They’ve lost in this round in each of the past two seasons without scoring a single goal against either Dinamo Zagreb or Malmo. We should probably read more into that than their recent big wins in the weak Lithuanian League.

Astana are likely to follow the blueprint that brought them success in this competition last term. That was a cautious approach away from home, where 5 of their 6 games had under 2.5 goals. There were only 3 goals in their 3 away qualifiers last year and they’ll feel if they can get a draw here, they should have no trouble progressing next week. Zalgiris have failed to score in all of their last 6 European ties so there is a plenty of reason here to back this to end in a bore draw and you can get generous odds of 10/1 for this to end 0-0.

Astana have only scored 2 goals in their last 7 European away matches. There have been under 2.5 goals in all of the Lithuanian side's last 6 matches in the Champions League. They were all at this stage.

Zalgiris took on Russian sided Terek Grozny in a friendly a week ago as prep for this game. A similar team should be fielded here including midfielder Pilibaitis who is their top scorer in 2016 with 6 goals.

Despite winning 5-1 on Friday, Astana are likely to recall several regular first teamers who were rested for that game including Colombian midfielder Roger Ca├▒as.

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