Celtic have started the season in imperious form – with five wins and a draw in all competitions – but Neil Lennon’s side may not have it all their own way in Central Asia against Kazakhstani Champions Shakhter Karagandy and odds of 12/5 on a draw in this final-stage Champions League qualifier is the bet to be on.
Shakhter – who won their first ever domestic title in 2011 – have wowed fans in the early stages of Europe’s elite competition, with 1-0 home and away wins against Belarusian champions BATE Borisov and a 5-3 aggregate victory over Albanian side KF Skenderbeu.
They may be a little off the pace in the Kazakh Premier League this year in third, six points behind FC Aktobe, but after seven home wins in all competitions since losing 2-1 to the league leaders back in May, Shakhter will be confident of turning the Shaktyor Stadium into a fortress for the visit of Celtic.
The SPL champions come into this game on the back of a solid 2-0 win at Aberdeen, but the journey across Europe is the furthest the Glasgow club have ever travelled for a competitive fixture and with limited preparation time following the weekend fixtures, they could find it difficult to impose themselves on in-form Shakhter.
The Hoops have a desperately poor away record in Europe in recent times and the 3-0 defeat of lowly Irish League outfit Cliftonville in the first qualifying round was only their third win on the continent in the last decade.
Celtic shared the spoils away to Elfsborg in the last round in a 0-0 draw – their 1-0 home win at Parkhead sending them through to the last qualifying stage – and a repeat of that scoreline can be backed at 29/2 in the goalbet market, with Bwin refunding losing single bets if a player scores two or more goals.