So much is on the line when Arsenal and Besiktas meet up at the Emirates on Wednesday. Which team will book their place in the Champions League group stages with a victory in the second leg? We've got our soccer odds pick inside.
The Gunners come in as clear-cut favorites for the return leg at home, with sportsbooks listing them at right around -250. A Besiktas win is trading at a high price ranging from +650 to as high as +800, while a draw is just over +400 in the soccer betting odds.
Leg One Result
Istanbul was rocking for the first showdown between these Champions League hopefuls, but with both teams adapting rather conservative tactics, the final ended 0-0.
One important development: Aaron Ramsey was shown two yellows and then a red, meaning he'll be unavailable for Wednesday's return leg in London.
It's been a testing week for the Gunners. First they had to travel to an intimidating atmosphere in Turkey, where they earned a draw, and they followed that up with a thrilling fightback against Everton over the weekend.
Down 2-0, things weren't looking for Arsenal, but Aaron Ramsey poked home late and then Olivier Giroud found the back of the net with a header in the 90th minute to shock the Toffees faithful and give the Gunners a massive point away from home.
Unfortunately for Arsene Wenger, Giroud will be doubtful after hurting his ankle against Everton, while Ramsey is obviously not able to play either due to suspension.
Wenger will be able to call on the likes of Mesut Ozil, Per Mertesacker, and Lukas Podolski, however, now that they've had a full recovery from their World Cup run. None of the Germans were available in the first leg, but both Ozil and Mertesacker played a part in the draw versus the Toffees and could very well make the starting XI against Besiktas.
The Black Eagles reached this point in qualification by finishing third in the Super Lig last season. They ended up behind Fenerbahce and Galatasaray, ending up with 17 wins, 11 draws, and six losses (with 53 goals for and 33 goals against) in 34 league matches.
The new season has yet to start for Besiktas though, so they'll have the added benefit of some extra rest in preparation for this visit to Arsenal.
Besiktas' most notable player is Demba Ba, who moved over from Chelsea over the summer to join up with the Turkish giants. He'll be counted on to score plenty of goals this season, and doing damage against Arsenal would be more than welcome.
That being said, we think the Black Eagles will be setting up quite defensively for this second leg, as they try to stifle the Gunners and catch them on the break. Manager Slaven Bilic, who was banished from the sideline in the first leg, will have a plan, and we'll have to see if his crew can execute it.
Champions League Pick
Though they were far from convincing in the first leg, we reckon the Gunners will put on a much better show in front of their own fans.
What's more, they will have gotten a nice boost in confidence from their comeback exploits against Everton, and that should give them a good mentality heading into this encounter with a tough-minded Besiktas outfit.
In terms of quality, the edge is clearly with Arsenal, and now that they're back on home soil, we look for them to win by at least a couple goals to book a spot in the Champions League.
Soccer Pick: Arsenal 2 Besiktas 0
Aggregate: Arsenal 2 Besiktas 0