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July 12, 2022 Sports Betting
Linfield and The New Saints meet at Windsor Park on Wednesday night in an effort to advance to the next round of the Champions League, with their first qualifying round match still up in the air.
The Faroese team KI or the Norwegian team Bodo/Glimt will be the winners’ opponents in the second round, while the losers will play in the Europa Conference League. The Welsh champions are ahead 1-0 going into the second leg.
The New Saints
Following their 1-0 loss to The New Saints in the first leg of last week’s Champions League qualifying match, Linfield’s chances of moving on to the second round were severely damaged.
At Park Hall, Ryan Brobbel’s second-half goal separated the teams and gave the Cymru Premier club a slim lead going into Wednesday’s rematch in Belfast.
Jordan Stewart and Stephen Fallon both missed late opportunities for the Blues, while Saints goalkeeper Connor Roberts made the saves to keep the South Belfast team from losing to opponents they had previously faced three times without suffering a loss.
At the weekend, Linfield continued its preseason schedule with a 2-1 victory over Knockbreda FC of the NIFL Championship, from whom veteran coach David Healy had earlier in January acquired promising forward Ethan Devine.
Under the direction of one of Northern Ireland’s best strikers, who led Linfield to five championships in the last six seasons after scoring 36 goals for his country, Devine was instrumental in helping his team win the NIFL Premiership last season by only one point over Cliftonville.
Thoughts automatically moved to another continental campaign after the club won its 56th national championship, but the Blues still have a lot of work to do if they want their current Champions League run to be interrupted at the first obstacle.
The New Saints stand in their way, but recent exploits in Europe have given the Welsh champions reason for optimism. In three of the last four years, they have advanced to the third qualifying round of either the Europa League or Europa Conference League.
After winning the Welsh Cup final in May to complete a domestic hat trick, Saints immediately resumed training for their latest attempt at the Champions League, where they have never advanced past the group stage. Pre-season results showed that they were prepared for last week’s opening match.
Two victories in a row in their first two friendlies—a 5-1 triumph over Cymru Premier runners-up Bala Town and a 2-1 triumph over Cliftonville—were followed by a 2-0 defeat to Larne in their last preseason match. Anthony Limbrick, the first Australian to coach a European club team to a national championship, has some experience in international competition and guided his team through the first two qualifying rounds of the Conference League’s first season.
Despite defeating Linfield’s former rivals Glentoran and FK Kauno Zalgiris, the third-round penalty shootout against Czech club Viktoria Plzen ended in sadness. However, starting a similar streak this year depends on Saints holding onto even the slightest first-leg edge.
This tie is precisely balanced as a result of the first leg’s outcome, and there is a good likelihood that extra time will be required – especially in the absence of the outdated away goals rule.Last Tuesday, Linfield came close to scoring but were thwarted by some excellent goalkeeping, but the encouragement of the Windsor Park supporters can help them. But ultimately, it can come down to penalty kicks to determine which team advances.