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UEFA Champions League playoff round preview: Oh, those second legs

Aug 26, 2014, 11:27 AM EDT

Arsene Wenger AP

Noon ET brings us the first of five UEFA Champions League second legs, as Zenit St. Petersburg and Standard Liege look to advance into the group stage.

Those matches will be joined by five more on Wednesday, and tightly-contested — for the most part — first legs have launched us into a busy and potentially-tense 48 hours of soccer.

Russian international Oleg Shatov‘s goal in Liege last week gave Zenit that all-important away goal heading into this afternoon’s tilt. It’s 1-0 to the hosts when the two clubs kick off from Petrovsky Stadium.

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Tuesday’s four remaining games kick at 245 p.m. ET, and only Porto will be feeling much ease after securing an away goal from Mexico’s Hector Herrera in a 1-0 win away at Lille. The French club will need to do work on the road to advance.

Celtic and Maribor, AaB and APOEL, and BATE Borisov’s match with Slovan Bratislava are all knotted at 1 heading into the second leg. Scotland, Cyprus and Belarus are the locales for today’s matches.

Looking ahead to Wednesday, Arsenal’s task of defeating Besiktas at the Emirates will happen without captain Mikel Arteta, suspended midfielder Aaron Ramsey and injured forward Olivier Giroud.

[ RELATED: No Giroud for UCL clash, will Wenger look outside club? ]

Copenhagen needs to thrive in Germany, as they allowed Bayer Leverkusen to pot three away goals in a one-goal loss last week.

Malmo enters its second leg against Red Bull Salzburg knowing they’re down a goal but have an away goal in their back pocket after a 2-1 loss in Austria, while Romania’s Steaua Bucaresti boasts a 1-0 advantage heading into Sofia for a match with Ludogorets Razgrad.

Finally, Athletic Bilbao and Napoli drew 1-1 in Italy, setting the stage for a fun second leg in Spain.

Predicted to advance: Zenit, Bayer Leverkusen, Celtic, Porto, Besiktas, Steaua Bucaresti, Napoli, Malmo, BATE Borisov, AaB

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