FC Astana hosts CFR Cluj in the first leg of the Champions League qualification 1/8 finals. The match will be played on Tuesday, July 9th at Astana Arena (Nur-Sultan)
There is a feeling that the era of Astana somehow begins to fade away... This season, the team turns out to be frankly weak. Half of the national championship is behind, and Astana is not in the first place but decently lags behind Tobol. Now the Capital is three points behind the leader, but Tobol has two matches in reserve, and this is potentially +6 points. And here the European Cup qualification begins in such a difficult period for the team. Astana lost two matches in a row in the championship, and three days before this match in the Champions League, Astana played a super-important match of the championship with Tobol. But we should also note frankly bad draw for the Kazakhs in the Champions League. Obviously, the Kazakhs had simpler potential opponents than the champion of Romania in the very first qualifying round. In general, Astana is experiencing serious problems, and this is now far from the team that instilled confidence in their own abilities for several years. Now there is no confidence!
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Cluj, under the management of a coach Dan Petrescu, begins the new season! Three days before the match with Astana, Cluj played for the super bowl of the country, and this was the first official match of the season, and the championship will start three days after the first qualifying match in the Champions League. The team can only be judged by friendly matches; the Romanians had held five of them, and the opponents were definitely not weaker than Astana. Namely, Sparta Prague, Crvena Zvezda, Orenburg. As a result, 4 wins, 1 draw, 0 losses, and the difference of scored-allowed goals is 6-2! In my opinion, these are very good fixtures in warming up fights! The last European Cup season was not good for the Romanian champion - the quick elimination from the Champions League from Swedish Malmo, and Cluj also failed to overcome the qualification of the Europa League... In general, the Romanian team clearly has very good motivation! But and it is most important, the layouts are probably in favor of them! Since the rival got into a crisis pit...
Astana has serious problems now. If it manages to win this match, personally I would be very surprised! In general, the teams have about the same level, but the players of the Romanian team can obviously take advantage of the Kazakh problem and gain at least a draw!
Prediction for the match: CFR Cluj to win with +0.5 handicap