Celtic game tough to call

  • By: Ben Coley
  • Last Updated: August 20 2014, 19:49 BST

Ben Coley previews Wednesday's Champions League qualifiers with Celtic's Callum McGregor catching his eye.

Callum McGregor: Can find the net once more
Callum McGregor: Can find the net once more

BRONZE: 1pt Callum McGregor to score at any time at 100/30 (Ladbrokes) - three from three on the road and looks set to start

Celtic get a second bite of the cherry having been reinstated to the Champions League, and they're favourites to see off Slovenian champions Maribor over the course of two legs.

Anyone who watched the Bhoys get thumped by Legia Warsaw will understandably shy away from skinny prices about them reaching the group stage, but this does look to represent a step down in class and they've subsequently impressed in the SPL.

Maribor have won each of their five home games this year including against Maccabi Tel Aviv, but this is a side who lost 3-1 at Wigan in last season's Europa League and were fortunate to edge the reverse, Wigan having had Chris McCann sent off shortly after they'd taken the lead.

So in all likelihood it's the Scottish side who will progress but to be frank, like most punters, I don't know enough about Maribor to have a confident bet on Celtic and the match prices can be left alone. Ultimately, sometimes you have to accept that these prices were created by people with a much greater knowledge of the subject at hand.

However, there could be some mileage in a small any time scorer bet seeing as Celtic already average 2.5 goals per game this season and arrive having scored nine in their last two league games.

Callum McGregor has burst onto the scene with some impressive displays since a loan spell in England and he's interesting at 100/30.

The Scotland U21 midfielder looks to have a real eye for goal and his attitude since returning north of the border has impressed Ronny Deila.

McGregor scored at KR Reykjavik on his debut and afterwards said: “I feel ready for this. Going on loan to Notts County in League One was a big help to me. I feel like I have come back a better, stronger player. I feel mentally ready for this challenge now.

“Obviously I’m delighted with the goal and I’ll enjoy it but I know I need to keep working. Once I get back into training on Thursday I’ll get the head down and keep striving to be better.

“Going from Lennoxtown to Notts County was a real culture shock for me. I had been at Celtic since I was nine years old and was used to everything at the club.

“At Notts County I was training on public parks. It was an eye-opener. It makes you not want to leave Celtic when you come back. You try a bit harder and you appreciate what you have with the facilities at this club.

“Being at Celtic means the world to me and if I can be here for a long time I’ll be delighted.”

Since then he's gone on to score the opener at Legia Warsaw as well as the last of three goals at St Johnstone, while just last Saturday he hit the post before his team-mates ran riot against Dundee United.

With captain Scott Brown still absent, McGregor looks likely to start once again - as he has done in all six of Celtic's games this season - and at the price he seems a fair bet to keep his scoring run going.

That there isn't a single odds-on favourite in the 90-minute markets across five ties on the night tells you much about the competitive nature of Wednesday's games, but it's also worth considering AaB Aalborg ahead of their clash with APOEL Nicosia.

Aalborg are well into the Danish season so they're fully wound up, and their beating of Dynamo Zagreb reads well considering that the Croatian side have been running riot in their domestic league.

APOEL's own league campaign doesn't begin until Sunday and any lack of sharpness could be exposed. However, Aalborg have been much better on the road this year so we'll wait for the second leg and reassess the situation then.

  • Preview posted at 1400 BST 19/08/2014