MX23RW : Monday, September 27 16:29:44| >> :600:4178627:4178627:
Jul 20, 2021 at 5pm UK at Victoria Stadium
LincolnLincoln Red Imps
CFR ClujCFR Cluj
Rosa Blanco (45')
Rosa Blanco (21'), Britto (24'), Toscano (65')
FT(HT: 1-0)
Debeljuh (52', 58')
Debeljuh (38')

Preview: Lincoln Red Imps vs. CFR Cluj - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Tuesday's Champions League clash between Lincoln Red Imps and CFR Cluj, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Romanian champions CFR Cluj travel to meet Gibraltar National League winners Lincoln Red Imps on Tuesday, as the pair seek to take one step closer to a place in the Champions League.

This second qualifying round, first leg affair pits together a home side who have never before progressed beyond this stage with visitors looking to reach the group stage for the first time since 2013.

Match preview

CFR Cluj players celebrate scoring against Young Boys in October 2020© Reuters

Having made a minor piece of history in the Champions League annals as they knocked out unfortunate Borac Banja Luka in the first qualifying round, CFR Cluj now find themselves strong favourites to progress further, given an apparently kind draw.

The first team to benefit from the abolition of the much-debated away goals rule in UEFA competitions, Cluj advanced courtesy of an extra time goal in their 2-1 loss at the Bosnian champions. Former Anderlecht striker Alexandru Chipciu's strike sealed a 4-3 win on aggregate after the additional 30 minutes, which only occurred due to the recent change.

Under the decades-old system scrapped by European football's governing body last month, Borac would previously have gone through with the aggregate score tied at 3-3, due to their first-leg goal in Romania.

Obscurely, the Feroviarii perhaps owe an unexpected defeat against lowly Iasi in the Cupa Romaniei late last year for their opportunity to return to the continent's top tournament at all.

That loss turned out to be the final game for beleaguered manager Dan Petrescu, who departed following a string of disappointing results that left his side well adrift of league leaders FCSB and saw his team dismantled by an aggregate score of 7-0 over two Europa League group games with Roma.

After parting company with Petrescu, the Transylvanian club appointed Edward Iordanescu; son of former national coach Anghel Iordanescu, who memorably led Romania to the last eight of the 1994 World Cup. Iordanescu junior then managed to steer Cluj through the playoffs to be crowned champions for a second successive season, before himself departing in the summer.

Now, well-travelled coach Marius Sumudica is in charge, and has faced mixed fortunes so far - losing the Supercupa Romaniei on penalties before stealing through in Europe and beating FC U Craiova 1948 in the opening game of the 2021-22 league campaign.

A dramatic 3-2 win, after Sumudica's side squandered an early two-goal advantage only to bag a late winner through Claudiu Petrila, could lay the foundation for a successful return to Champions League action this week.

Cluj's opponents, meanwhile, finished their previous campaign in May - sealing a domestic double with victory over Glacis United in the Rock Cup final.

Lincoln Red Imps returned to competitive football with a disappointing 2-2 draw at first round rivals Fola Esch of Luxembourg earlier this month, perhaps understandably running out of steam in the final half-hour to blow a 2-0 lead at Stade Emile Mayrisch.

However, they made amends with a 5-0 win on home soil to seal a 7-2 aggregate success, after an early double from Gibraltar international Tjay De Barr settled any nerves in the camp.

Standard-bearers for Gibraltarian football, the country's record champions - with 24 league titles, including fourteen in a row between 2003 and 2016 - were the first team to represent the island nation in the Champions League qualifying process. They have never yet made it through to even the third round, though, so will need to break new ground if they are to realise an impossible dream this year.

Mick McElwee's men remain notorious for a surprise victory against then Scottish champions Celtic in 2016, with a 1-0 home victory probably the club's greatest-ever result, so will hope to pull off a similar upset against Cluj on Tuesday.

Lincoln Red Imps Champions League form:
  • D
  • W

CFR Cluj Champions League form:
  • W
  • L

CFR Cluj form (all competitions):
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • D
  • L
  • W

Team News

CFR Cluj's Billel Omrani celebrates scoring their second goal with team mates on August 13, 2019© Reuters

New Cluj coach Marius Sumudica has so far found his defence exposed too often, but as a former striker, has stated his aim is not merely to win 1-0, but "by at least one goal more than any opponent."

Nevertheless, necessarily a pragmatist - having travelled from one club to the next - his Cluj side may be expected to change that philosophy the further they progress in Europe. On Tuesday, though, they should continue with a bold 4-3-3 formation, given the relative stature of their hosts.

Star striker Billel Omrani - who suffered a frustrating night on his return to Liga action last Friday, being booked and failing to find the net - is set to continue up front ahead of Croatian forward Gabriel Debeljuh; with Ciprian Deac, Alexandru Chipciu and young Claudiu Petrilu all involved in the creative department.

Lincoln, meanwhile, are expected to persist with veteran Lee Casciaro and part-time butcher Tjay De Barr in attack, while national team captain Roy Chipolina - now aged 38 - will helm the home side's defence.

After signing from Dinamo Riga earlier this month, Latvian forward Nikita Kovalonoks will hope to feature from the bench, following his debut in the first-leg draw with Fola Esch.

Lincoln Red Imps possible starting lineup:
Soler; Wiseman, Lopes, R. Chipolina, Toscano; Ronan, Yahaya, Walker, Britto; Casciaro, De Barr

CFR Cluj possible starting lineup:
Arlauskis; Manea, Ciobotariu, Bouhenna, Camora; Hoban, Sigurjonsson, Deac; Chipciu, Omrani, Petrilu

SM words green background

We say: Lincoln Red Imps 1-3 CFR Cluj

With a combination of more competitive football and a greater pool of talent to call upon, Cluj are strong favourites to win both legs and progress to the next stage of the qualifying process.

Against modest Lincoln, that should prove within their capabilities, but the side from the rock possess some grit and experience which could help them get on the scoresheet ahead of the trip to Transylvania next week.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data

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