July 4, 2022 Sports Betting
The opening leg of the first-round qualifying match between FC Pyunik and CFR Cluj, the champions of Armenia and Romania, will take place on Tuesday at the Republican Stadium after Vazgen Sargsyan.
Last season, the hosts won their 15th top-flight championship in Armenia while Cluj won Romania’s championship for the fifth consecutive year.
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For a club with the structure of Pyunik, converting domestic dominance into European success would always be difficult, but Eghishe Melikyan’s team enters the new season with optimism rife throughout the ranks.
Prior to a successful season under Melikyan’s guidance in 2021–2022, Pyunik had not won the Armenian top-flight championship since 2015. This was due to seven years of dominance by Alashkert and Ararat–Armenia.
Pyunik won the 15th Armenian Premier League championship with a point to spare despite having to settle for a 1-1 draw against Alashkert on the season’s final day, and they are now aiming to have a respectable run in the early stages of the Champions League.
In the Europa League, Pyunik has made it as far as the third qualifying round, but they have never made it past the second round of the Champions League qualifying process, with Molde being the latest team to eliminate them at that stage in 2015.
The Academy finished the 2021–22 season with a stunning 17-game winning streak, including eight victories in nine home games since the beginning of the year, but Cluj has a much stronger European pedigree than their fellow national champion
The 2021–22 Romanian top flight regular season saw Dan Petrescu’s team emerge as the dominant force. They finished with 76 points and held off FCSB in the playoff round to win their fifth consecutive top-division championship and eighth overall.
Cluj has already played in four friendlies this summer, winning all of them and recording four clean sheets. Unlike their upcoming opponents, Cluj has also played in three Champions League group stage matches.
The Romanian champions, who advanced as far as the third round of qualifying last year before being eliminated by BSC Young Boys, have never lost in the first round of Champions League qualifying. However, they will play Sepsi in the Super Cup between their two-leg matchup with Pyunik.
The match on Tuesday will be the first time Pyunik and Cluj have faced off in any competition, but the guests had already encountered Armenian opposition at Alashkert in 2018–19 Europa League Qualifying and prevailed by an aggregate score of 7–0.
In their summer friendlies, Cluj have already shown a propensity for keeping clean sheets and marching to victory away from home, which will undoubtedly serve them well here.
Pyunik are a tough opponent at home, but Petrescu’s team has more continental experience and will hope to take a lead after the first leg before the second leg next week.