Celtic’s 1-0 defeat at home to Barcelona left them four points shy of the second qualification spot in Group H, and 25/1 long shots with bwin to proceed to the knockout phase of the Champions League.
With Neil Lennon declaring his side’s upcoming double header against Ajax on matchdays three and four as vital to The Bhoys’ qualification chances, it’s well worth siding with the Scottish side to find a route through to the next phase.
The middle group games are where Celtic do their best work
What will encourage The Hoops is their record in past double headers during the group phase. In the last seven campaigns where they have contested the round robin section of Europe’s primary club competition, Celtic have never lost both games and have taken at least three points from the two games six times.
Lennon has targeted four points from the Ajax games this time around and will once again depend on the electric Celtic Park atmosphere at home. It’s easy to see why, as the apple of Rod Stewart’s eye have won the home game in the double header on all three previous occasions that they’ve made it through their group.
While Celtic grapple with Ajax, AC Milan must try and topple Barcelona
The beauty of Celtic having to play Ajax over the middle section is that it gives them the perfect opportunity to rein in the hare that is AC Milan.
Mario Balotelli and his teammates will have to play their toughest fixtures of the lot at that time, as they face Barcelona. The Rossoneri have only overcome their Spanish rivals once in the last nine meetings and only five times in their 17-game history against the Nou Camp mob, meaning that while they drop points Celtic can close the gap.
Favourable Ajax and Milan records
Just to prove that their 25/1 price is ripe for the taking, Celtic have a very pleasing record against Ajax, avoiding defeat in three of their previous four battles and beating them twice.
Should that game plan succeed, it will leave the home match against Milan as the make-or-break moment for qualification, and with the game due to be played at home, where Celtic triumphed the last time Milan visited, it could be enough to seal their path into the next round.