There’s still some way to go before the clubs competing in the Champions League second qualifying round are let anywhere near the group stage, but bwin.com have laid on a banker bet for the home favourites battling to get on track.
You can have 9/4 about Celtic, Dinamo Zagreb, Qarabag, Malmo and BATE Borisov all winning their first legs on home soil with bwin’s top combi-plus, boosted from 17/10.
Despite the Scottish Premiership champions’ fine run to the last 32 of the Europa League last term, Celtic begin their continental campaign in mid-July for the third season on the spin against Icelandic outfit Stjarnan.
Ronny Deila’s side saw off the visitors’ compatriots KR Reykjavik 5-0 on aggregate in this round last term, winning 4-0 at Parkhead, meaning the Hoops have triumphed in their last four opening home fixtures in the continent’s top tournament, dating back to August 2010.
Dinamo are an even shorter price than 1/10 Celtic to take care of Luxembourg’s Fola Esch, which looks a formality considering the Croatian top dogs recorded a 6-0 aggregate victory over this lot at the same stage two years ago.
Malmo have lost just one of their first eight Allsvenskan home matches this season, and take on poor-travelling Lithuanians Zalgiris at Swedbank Stadion.
The Vilnius-based side have lost three and won just one of their past five European away fixtures, with the sole victory coming at Irish small fry St Patrick’s Athletic, so Malmo should complete the first half of this assignment without trouble.
Azerbaijan outfit Qarabag hold a proud recent record on the continent, making it all the way to Europa League play-off rounds in 2010/11 and 2013/14, before being dumped out by German powerhouses Borussia Dortmund and Eintracht Frankfurt respectively.
Qarabag have cleared the first hurdle in each of their last five European campaigns, including at this stage 12 months ago against Maltese side Valletta, while their Montenegrin opponents Rudar Pljevlja are yet to go further than the second qualifying round in either the Champions League or Europa League.
Last but not least, Belarusian stalwarts BATE Borisov get a meaty 2/5 quote to take care of Dundalk at home, seemingly due to Stephen Kenny’s side storming nine points clear of second-place Cork after 19 League of Ireland Premier Division fixtures so far this term.
That form shouldn’t be enough to repel a team that made the Champions League group stage in three of the past four seasons though, with BATE’s most recent headline-inducing home victory coming against Athletic Bilbao last September.
Furthermore, Alyaksandr Yermakovich’s men have won five of their six home games so far this term, drawing the other, so they won’t lack confidence.