Preview: The New Saints vs Linfield – prediction, team news, line-ups

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Sports Mole previews Tuesday’s Champions League clash between New Saints and Linfield, including predictions, team news and possible line-ups.

The champions of Wales and Northern Ireland face off in the first leg of Champions League qualifying on Tuesday evening, while The New Saints and Linfield meet at Park Hall Stadium.

Both teams will look for an advantage ahead of next week’s return, after which the winners move on to a second leg encounter with Bodo/Glimt or KI; the losers being relegated to the Europa Conference League.


Match preview

Just weeks after sealing a domestic double with victory in the Welsh Cup final in May, New Saints were back in training for their final crack in the Champions League – a competition in which they had no never reached the group stage.

Saints have reached the third qualifying round of the Europa League or Europa Conference League in three of the last four years, so certainly start with a hope of provoking an upset or two this season.

After securing two out of two wins in their first pair of pre-season friendlies – a 5-1 win over Bala Town, Cymru Premier runners-up last season, and a 2-1 success against Cliftonville – the team ‘Oswestry was beaten 2-0 by Larne last Wednesday in their final preseason game.

The head coach Anthony Limbrick has already gained experience in continental competition, as in the inaugural Conference League season, his side progressed through the first two qualifying rounds by beating Glentoran and FK Kauno Zalgiris. Penalty heartbreak was to follow in the third round, however, against Czech club Viktoria Plzen.

Limbrick quickly boosted his team’s morale and eventually became the first Australian manager to win a top-flight European title, and now the Welsh champions’ first qualifying game of the new campaign pits them against Irish opposition for the second season on the spin.

As TNS cruised to the Cymru Premier Trophy by a margin of 21 points, this year’s first-round opponents won the NIFL Premiership by a single point, just ahead of Cliftonville.

Administrator David Healyonce a renowned Northern Ireland international with 95 caps and 36 goals to his name, has now led the Blues to five titles in the past six seasons, and the latest was the 56th time they were crowned domestic champions .

In preparation for their Champions League opener – which ends next week, back at Windsor Park – Linfield faced the Qatar national team in their first pre-season outing and got the better of the hosts of this winter’s World Cup with a 1-0 victory in Marbella.

Returning home after a week-long training camp in Spain, Healy’s men then followed up a goalless draw against Newtown with a 2-1 loss to SPFL side St. Mirren, despite the loan Daniel Finlayson – who only recently completed their change of opponents from Saturday – leveled the game after 19 minutes.

Attention now turns to competitive action on Tuesday night, when the South Belfast side meet the opposition they have played three times in the last 15 years.

After a 2-1 win for Linfield in 2007, pre-season matches in 2009 and 2010 ended squarely, but the stakes will be much higher when the teams meet twice over the next few days.

The New Saints form (all competitions):

Linfield form (all competitions):


Team News

Two summer signings are in contention to start for The New Saints on Tuesday night, as a winger Josh Daniels – a former Republic of Ireland Under-21 international – joins goalkeeper Daniel Atherton in Anthony Limbrick’s squad.

The latter, a Liverpool academy graduate, has previous UEFA Youth League experience, and he will compete with Connor Robert be the hosts’ last line of defence.

scottish striker Declan McManus is set to lead the line up front, having been named Cymru Premier 2021-22 ‘Player of the Season’, with a tally of 24 league goals.

Linfield, however, lost his main man in attack, as Christy Manzinga recently left for Hungarian club Zalaegerszegi, having finished last season as the club’s top scorer with 20 goals in 37 appearances.

In his absence, there should be a first competitive outing for the striker Robbie McDaidwho arrived at the club from rivals Glentoran last week and played for his former club against TNS at this stage last season.

finnish striker Eetu Vertainen was not registered in time to play this week, but other new signings, such as Chris McKee, Joel Cooper and Daniel Finlayson – the latter a Northern Ireland Under-21 international on loan from St Mirren – is expected to play a role.

The possible starting formation of the New Saints:
Roberts; D. Davies, Astles, K. Davies, Marriott; Routledge, Brobbel, Redmond; Daniels, McManus, Cieslewicz

Linfield’s possible starting lineup:
Jeans ; Finlayson, Roscoe, Hall, Shields; McClean, Mulgrew; Fallon, Cooper, Fallon; McDaid


We say: The New Saints 1-1 Linfield

Neither side is likely to give away too much in the first leg of this encounter, so it could be a tight affair at Park Hall.

Nonetheless, the visitors possess enough attacking threat to strike at least once – setting themselves up well for the return to Belfast next Wednesday.

For a data analysis of the most likely outcomes, scores and more for this match, please click here.


Trick

Our expert forecasting partners at Sportita.com predict more than 1.5 goals in this game. Click here to find out what else they predict for this game and for more of their proven football tips.More than 1.5: data


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