Hapoel Be’er Sheva Form: WLWLW
Celtic Form: WWWWW
Kick Off: 19:45, 23/08/16
TV: BT Sport 2
Brendan Rodgers’ Celtic tenure has started in typical, well, Brendan Rodgers fashion.
Cautious is not among the adjectives most commonly associated with the Northern Irishman’s coaching style and his opening results at Parkhead have demonstrated why.
Since the Bhoys’ mortifying defeat to the Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar in Rodgers’ first match in charge, they’ve gone seven unbeaten and travel to Israel having won five on the spin.
Their previous three matches, sandwiched in the middle of which was the first-leg of this tie, have seen no fewer than 14 goals scored.
Five came in last week’s smiting of Be’er Sheva, though, in textbook Rodgers fashion, defensive leakiness has left this tie a little more open-ended than it should’ve been.
The visitors nabbed two away goals in Glasgow and their own splendid home form will instill the confidence required to overturn the current deficit.
Piraeus kingpins Olympiakos were beaten at the Yaakov Turner Toto Stadium in the previous round of Champions League qualifiers, while Hapoel’s previous two domestic foes were also slain.
Encouragingly for Celtic, none of these sides were beaten by a scoreline that would confine them to the Europa League in this instance, with all bar one of Be’er Sheva’s last five visitors rustling the hosts’ net.
It makes the 3/5 about both teams to score a banker here, while 7/2 says each protagonist will locate the onion bag in a home win.
Celtic can be backed as 19/10 underdogs and there’ll be plenty willing to take the bookies up on this one given the Bhoys’ scintillating form of late, but Be’er Sheva are strong on their own patch which, coupled with the visitors’ defensive frailties, makes them better value at 27/20.
What appears certain, though the odds masters don’t seem to agree, is that over 2.5 goals will be scored. All bar two of the away teams’ games under Rodgers have landed this punt, as have five of the last seven Hapoel matches.
Given these stats, 3/4 about it happening again registers a surprisingly generous offering.