A new Champions League season will kick off next month. Real Madrid will try to defend their title against the remaining 31 teams that will also be taking part in the competition. With the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo, it remains to be seen how Los Blancos will retain their title.
Of the 32 teams set to compete in the UCL this season, only 26 have confirmed their place in the group stages. The remaining six are still trying to qualify for the competition via the Champions League qualifiers.
The qualifiers which began in June has seen over 50 clubs enter the different qualifying rounds at different stages. Three qualifying rounds have been played so far, with the final one – the playoffs – set to be played this week and the next.
Of the 12 remaining teams, some joined the qualification race in the second round while most joined in the third qualifying round.
Ajax started from the second round, which means they’ve played four games so far in the qualifiers – two against Strum Graz and another two against Standard Leige. In those four games, they scored 10 goals and conceded just three.
They face a Dynamo Kyiv side that has only played two games: a 1-1 draw away from home against Praha and a 2-0 win the return leg.
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Another team that started its journey from the second round is Dinamo Zagreb. The Croatian side, just like Ajax, has also played four games, during which they also scored 10 goals on the overall: 7 in the second round, 3 in the third.
Their opponents in the play-offs, Young Boys, are just joining the qualifiers. This factor may determine to a large extent where this game will end.
Two teams that started the qualifiers from the first round and have made it this far is Vidi from Hungary and Crvena Zvezda from Serbia. Both sides have played six games each – more than any side currently in the running for qualification.
Vidi has only scored 5 goals in all the six games they’ve played. Their play-off opponent is AEK Athens, a side that scored an aggregate of 3 goals in their two-legged win over Celtic.
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Zvezda has managed to score 10 goals in the qualifying campaign so far. Up next for them is the game against Salzburg, a side that has not conceded in their qualifying campaign so far.
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The four remaining teams that will play in the playoffs include Bate, PSV, Benfica and PAOK. Bate and PAOK both started the journey from the second round, Benfica joined in the third and PSV’s game against BATE will be their first taste of qualifying action.
Which of these 12 teams do you think will make it into the group stages of the 2018/2019 Champions League season? Leave us your comments and share your thoughts with us.