AEK Athens has a one-goal deficit from the opening leg against the Belgian champs, Antwerp, but the Greeks will have a home-field edge on Wednesday. This is a good chance to reach the Champions League for the team from Athens, who hasn’t been there since 2019. On the other side, Antwerp is on the verge of a historic achievement. If they overcome a big challenge in Greece, we will see them in the UCL group stage for the first time ever. Agia Sophia Stadium in Athens will be filled up to the last spot for this event, so expect a spectacle.
AEK (-115) didn’t have a good intro for this contest, with them meeting Panserraikos on Saturday evening and playing 1-1. The guests quickly took the lead, after sixty seconds of play, and even though AEK dominated later, they managed only to level the score.
This was the third meeting in a row for the black-yellow without a victory. The first was a stunning draw at home against Dinamo Zagreb, 2-2, in which the Greeks came back from being two goals down in the stoppage time, the second loss to Antwerp on the road, 1-0, and the third this contest.
Matias Almeyda has a very good midfield at his disposal and several very experienced players that lead this unit, like Steven Zuber or Domagoj Vida. He insists on his team taking possession and dictating the tempo with short passes, thus imposing its own style of play.
Antwerp (+350) didn’t play this weekend, postponing its event against Gent, all to prepare better for Wednesday’s historic contest. This unit isn’t like AEK in terms of efficiency, and they don’t play high-scoring affairs as often as the Greeks.
The Belgian champs have played six competitive events this year, posting four wins, one loss and one draw. Only one game saw three or more goals, which was against Kortrijk, 6-0. Antwerp posted four clean sheets during that period.
Poor performances away from home are creating fear among Antwerp’s fans. In two games this year, they have one loss against Anderlecht 1-0, and a draw to Antwerp, 1-1.
Paolo Fernandes is out for the hosts due to his Achilles tendon problems.
Antwerp can’t count on De Wolf, Verhulst, and Corbaine. Jelle Bataille is out due to his red card suspension.
Head to Head Games
The two units played friendly games in 2021 and 2022, and on both occasions, AEK won without a goal allowed, 2-0 and 3-0. However, last week, we saw Antwerp notching a minimal victory, 1-0.
AEK will have massive support from the stands, and we aren’t sure that Antwerp’s players encountered such an atmosphere in the past. After the game against Dinamo Zagreb, the hosts believe in wonders, so a one-goal deficit isn’t looking like a big obstacle. We pick AEK to triumph, not only because of the home-field advantage but due to their higher quality than Antwerp’s. Belgians struggle on the road in the domestic championship, and teams like that are usually in massive problems on the international stage.
Pick: AEK wins -115
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.