Celtic can deny Old Lady
Ben Linfoot previews Tuesday's action in the Champions League and he's siding with Celtic against Juventus.
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Celtic are in a rich vein of form at present and they may well have been underestimated by the layers ahead of their Champions League last-16 first leg with Serie A leaders Juventus.
Of course, a visit from the Old Lady is a steep step up in class from trips to Raith Rovers and Inverness, but Neil Lennon's side are brimming with confidence at present after winning 12 of their last 13 matches.
They even went to nearest SPL challengers Inverness at the weekend and beat them 3-1 despite nine changes to the first XI as Lennon took no risks ahead of the big clash.
If you're not convinced by Celtic's domestic results, their home form in the group stage stands up to scrutiny, as victories over Barcelona and Spartak Moscow as well as their draw with Benfica helped them to progress to the knockout stage.
The likes of Kris Commons and Gary Hooper are in fine form at present and having beaten Barcelona at home Juventus will hold no fears for the Hoops.
Added to that, Juventus haven't been firing on all cylinders since returning from their winter break. They won six on the trot going into the holiday period, but since the break they have won just four times in nine matches, drawing three and losing the other two.
Considering Celtic's great record at home in Europe and Juventus' recent defensive lapses (they have kept only two clean sheets in their last 10 games) we want to get with the SPL side and the 7/2 about them is tempting.
However, clearly you have to respect Juventus. Top of Serie A and unbeaten in the Champions League this season, they pose a real threat and while we wouldn't back them at the prices, odds-on quotes are understandable.
With that in mind Celtic look worth siding with in the double-chance market at 11/10 as having the draw onside appeals greatly. Juventus will be confident of getting the job done at home anyway and I'm sure they would be happy with a stalemate.
Tuesday's other game sees Valencia host Paris Saint Germain and it's a tough one to call as the odds suggest.
Valencia are slight 13/10 favourites and they deserve that tag on their home form. They are nine games unbeaten at the Mestella in the Champions League and have seen an upturn in fortunes domestically since Ernesto Valverde took over the reins following a poor start to the season under Mauricio Pellegrino.
It's safe to say they are a different proposition now to the side that took just 18 points from their first 14 La Liga games, as their position of fifth in the table indicates.
They are improving, but in PSG they face an in-form side who have risen to the top of Ligue 1 after a run of form that includes nine victories in their last 10 league games.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been vital to their surge as he has scored 11 goals in PSG's last 15 matches and despite being away from home it's of no surprise to see him chalked up as the 5/1 favourite in the first goalscorer market.
Lille give us a clue to the talents of both teams. Rudi Carcia's side lost 2-0 at the Mestella in the Champions League group stages and were then defeated 1-0 in the return fixture in France.
PSG have also played Lille twice this season, winning 2-1 away from home thanks to an Ibrahimovic brace and then beating them 1-0 at home in recent weeks.
That says to me there is very little between the two teams, with improving Valencia perhaps likely to shade it although the draw is a big player and should be considered at 23/10.
We'll watch and learn from this game, though, in preparation for the second leg with Tuesday's bet confined to Celtic/Draw in the double-chance market at 11/10 in their clash with Juventus at Parkhead.
- The Celtic match is being televised live in the UK by ITV, with the Valencia game on Sky Sports.