Celtic are available to back at 4/6 to win the first leg of their Champions League play-off clash with Malmo FF, and 17/10 to do so without conceding. Here’s why those are prices worth pouncing on:
Celtic and Malmo FF don’t do Champions League draws…
Fourteen Celtic Champions League home matches and 35 months have passed since they were last held to a draw in the competition at Celtic Park.
Malmo FF are similarly stalemate-resistant, travelling abroad in Europe’s top tournament ten times since last engaging in a sharing of the spoils in July 2011. That indicates that the first leg will have a definitive winner…
…and that trend plays into the Bhoys’ hands
Celtic won ten of their aforementioned 14 drawless Champions League outings as hosts, only being beaten by 2014/15 finalists Juventus and Barcelona, seven-time champions AC Milan and, erm, Maribor.
Seven of Malmo FF’s previous nine drawless journeys overseas in the competition proved fruitless, with the victories exclusive to Latvia (Ventspils) and Lithuania (Zalgiris).
There are always clean sheets in Malmo FF’s European games…
A borderline-absurd 21 of Malmo FF’s most recent 24 continental fixtures have been notable for denying both-teams-to-score-backers a payout, including each of their four this season.
…and Celtic won’t be shut out
Malmo FF are far more likely than Celtic to be supplying this week’s zero having been silenced twice already in the qualifiers and scored four goals across their four matches to the Scottish side’s seven.
Ronny Deila’s men are not simply consistent Champions League net-finders in Glasgow, they like to do their striking in pairs too, firing at least twice in 11 of their 18 home encounters this decade.
The Hoops are masters of this craft
It would be a mistake to read too much into the events of last summer, in which Celtic botched their qualification bid as Malmo FF boogied on down to the group stage. That was their first time making it so far and Celtic’s first failed attempt in three to successfully navigate the preliminary rounds.
The Bhoys’ bother was in part due to the managerial upheaval presented by Neil Lennon’s sudden departure. His replacement Ronny Deila has found the answers since though, guiding his squad through last term’s Europa League group stage and scaring Inter in the round-of-32.
If you strike last year’s misleading results from the record, Celtic have played seven home qualifiers since 2012/13 and won the lot, conceding once in the initial contest and following up with six straight clean sheets. They’ve got this.