For Brendan Rodgers, avenging one of the most humiliating defeats in the history of Celtic Football Club is top of the agenda this Wednesday.
His Bhoys side must overturn a 1-0 first-leg loss to Gibraltar’s Lincoln Red Imps if they are to advance to the third round of Champions League preliminaries and the odds indicate they’ll have little trouble doing so.
After failing to score in the previous meeting, Celtic must win by a margin of two or more to avoid extra-time or, worse still, away-goals elimination, with the smallest handicap victory possible available to back at just 11/50.
The bookies were just as confident about the favourites encountering few difficulties in the opening leg, yet they got that terribly wrong and previous Parkhead results in this competition suggests Celtic’s progress is far from guaranteed here.
Win, Lose or Draw
Owing to the fact they’ve spent the bulk of recent summers entertaining various minnows from the most obscure of European outposts, there are plenty of wins on Celtic’s recent Champions League home ledger.
Going back to 2013/14, they’ve hosted nine preliminary fixtures in the competition, winning all bar one.
However, four of these scorelines would’ve resulted in extra-time or elimination were they repeated against the Red Imps.
Technically, it should be five, with the 3-0 win over Legia Warsaw accredited as part of disciplinary measures brought against the Poles for fielding an ineligible player in a match they actually won 2-0.
Legia are joined by Maribor, Malmo, Qarabag and Elfsborg in a group of teams who’ve returned from the green half of Glasgow having lost by a deficit no greater than one goal.
The Red Imps can take further encouragement from the fact that in just two of nine Champions League qualifiers have they lost by a margin large enough to end their interest here.
It’s 17/2 in the double-chance stakes that Julio Cesar Ribas’ troops either win or draw in Scotland, though backing them to qualify is more likely to reward.
The bookies are braced for a high-scoring affair here, but Brendan Rodgers’ side were blunted in Gibraltar and with only six days to hone their sharpshooting skills since their first-leg loss, what’s to say the same backline can’t keep them at bay?
Four of Celtic’s last five home matches in this competition have fallen shy of the 2.5-goal line too, if their legislature-dictated 3-0 victory over Legia is acknowledged as the 2-0 defeat it really was, while Lincoln, who seek a third straight European clean sheet, restricted Danish big wigs Midtjylland to just a solitary strike when they met in Scandinavia last term.
Recommended bet: Under 2.5 goals @ 19/10
Who’s Going To Score?
Having played in the third and fourth tier of Spanish football, all 18 of his country’s international matches and earned a week-long trial at Leyton Orient earlier in his career, Joseph Luis Chipolina is the closest thing Gibraltar have to Lionel Messi.
Like Messi, his recent form suggests he knows where the net is too, with two strikes in his previous three outings in this competition.
There’s certainly value to be had backing the left-back to notch a third qualification goal at Parkhead.
Of the nine Champions League goals the Red Imps have ever scored, all bar two came after the interval.
The odds suggest they’ll bulge the net the same number of times in each half (aka they won’t score at all), ensuring there’s a mountain of money to be made backing the second half to contain the most Red Imps goals.
Recommended bet: Second half to contain most Lincoln Red Imps goals @ 9/2