DAVID SMITH - Monday, August 2, 2010
Sacha Kljestan and Anderlecht should have an easy time to wrap up their Champions League third round qualifier against TNS while Dominic Cervi and Celtic will need a miracle to overturn their deficit.
Anderlecht - The New Saints (agg. 3-1)
Sacha Kljestan can expect to land a starting role in Anderlecht's midfield on Tuesday evening when they try to protect their 3-1 aggregate lead over Welsh champions The New Saints in the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium.
The former Chivas USA player scored his team's opening goal in last week's first leg en route to their 3-1 win, and will almost certainly be on the field from the opening whistle as coach Ariël Jacobs is facing a mounting personnel crisis in his midfield.
Argentine midfielder Lucas Biglia went down with a shoulder injury in Anderlecht's season opener over the weekend forcing Kljestan into early action off the bench, joining Cheikhou Kouyate and Kanu on the sidelines while they recover from their respective ankle and muscle injury.
Adding to the legion of unavailable midfielders is the troublesome case of Czech international Jan Polak, whose move to Galatasaray seems to have fallen through. While he still remains officially on Anderlecht's books, the team is keeping him out of European action to avoid cap tying him and lessening his value to any other prospective buyers.
Even being fairly short-handed in the middle, the Purple & White should have no problems to take the aggregate victory as the Welsh minnows would need to score at least three goals to even have a chance to take the game into overtime.
While it took them nearly an hour to rev their engines, they showed their teeth in the last half-hour of their Jupiler League opener on Saturday, putting four goals past newly promoted AS Eupen to steam into first place.
The Saints are still in the midst of their pre-season preparations, and will almost certainly have the Europa League play-off round to look forward to in the next step of their European adventure. The team has no injuries or suspensions for the game.
Celtic backup keeper Dominic Cervi will watch from the bench as Lukasz Zaluska and the rest of the starters attempt to improve on last week's embarrassing 3-0 beat-down at the hands of Braga when they host the Portuguese runners up on Wednesday in the second leg of their Champions League qualifier.