Celtic’s first Champions League qualifier of the campaign coincides with Brendan Rodgers’ competitive debut as manager.
The Bhoys are expected to encounter few problems against Gibraltar kingpins Lincoln Red Imps, with the bookies going 7/50 about a maiden victory for Rodgers, whereas their hosts are 15/1 to prevail in front of the faithful. Those who fancy the spoils to be shared will get paid out at 13/2 with bwin.com.
With a chasm of quality dividing the two parties, only extreme optimists will be wagering their hard-earned on anything except a Celtic win here but, as is evident, there’s isn’t much value in the match-betting market.
The pursuit of profit tasks us to dig a little deeper, with rewards aplenty lurking just below the win-draw-win surface.
Exactly one goal to be scored in the 1st half @ 17/10
This is the fourth season in succession in which Celtic have competed in the Champions League from the second preliminary round.
Whether it’s the underestimation of the opposition or the presence of pre-season cobwebs at fault, but they haven’t pounded their small fry adversaries with the consummate ease the discrepancy in stature suggests they should.
They’ve faced two Icelandic foes at this stage in each of the previous two campaigns, Stjarnan last term and KR the year before.
The latter were beaten 1-0 in the first leg, the former lost 2-0.
Across both games, the net bulged just once in the first half, while this was the same number of pre-interval strikes registered by the guests when Celtic visited Stjarnan for the corresponding clash a little under 12 months ago.
Both teams to score – yes @ 29/20
This will be the ninth Champions League match the Imps have been involved in.
They’ve failed to score on just three occasions, two of which came at this stage last season against Denmark’s FC Midtjylland, who proved strong enough to defeat Manchester United later in the campaign.
So the Danes boast the only rearguard that can claim to be strong enough to stop the Imps scoring over two legs in this competition and it stands to reason they have a better chance of bagging on their own patch.
Celtic to win & under 3.5 goals in the match @ 95/100
Just two of the Bhoys’ previous six sojourns in this competition have produced four goals or more.
A win is inevitable given the quality contrast and the fact Celtic lassoed the laurels in each of their last four second prelim round fixtures, but Rodgers’ troops won’t run riot at the home of the 22-time champions of Gibraltar.