Celtic host Danish side Midtjylland in the first of their two-legged second round Champions League Qualifier, and Jake Pearson has picked out his best bets and score prediction.
1pt Both Teams To Score 'NO' at 23/20 (BetVictor)
1pt Under 9.5 Corners at 19/20 (Betfair Sportsbook)
It may feel like an incredibly quick turnaround from the end of the European Championship to the beginning of the Champions League qualification process, but in fact, Midtjylland have already kicked off their domestic campaign, opening the 2021/21 Danish Superliga season with a shock defeat to Odense Boldklub at the weekend.
The result came in bizarre fashion after Jorgen Skjelvik’s corner looped in and earned a late victory for the visitors, who finished eighth in the league last season.
It was certainly not the start that new manager Bo Henriksen, formerly of Kidderminster Harriers, would have been hoping for, and a strong charge through Champions League qualification will be a high priority for the side who finished runners-up in last term’s Danish top-flight.
However, there have been noises of unrest in the Midtjylland camp, with at least four of their most influential players appearing to be attempting to force a move away from the club, including striker Sory Kaba, who has reportedly been exiled after refusing to play for the Danish side.
Much like their opponents, Celtic’s preparations for this match have been far from ideal, their new manager also having to deal with his fair share of problems.
Former Australia head coach Ange Postecoglou was appointed Neil Lennon’s successor in June and has seen his squad ravaged by injuries and lack of fitness during his short time in charge.
The Australian recently admitted that Celtic’s fitness levels are not ideal ahead of their crucial Champions League qualifying clash with Midtjylland, adding “if we are going to challenge on all fronts we are going to need a strong squad and at the moment we don’t have that.”
That was demonstrated in their recent 1-0 defeat to Preston North End in a pre-season friendly, the second consecutive match that Celtic have failed to score in.
That brings us nicely onto our first selection in the tie, and given Celtic’s recent woes in front of goal, backing BOTH TEAMS TO SCORE 'NO' at 23/20 makes plenty of appeal.
Midtjylland’s strength does tend to lie in their defensive work as well, with the 1.03 goals per game they conceded last season by far the best in the Danish Superliga, as well as conceding just once in last season’s Champions League qualification process - through four matches.
Midtjylland are not a side to be underestimated, beating Slavia Prague 4-1 on aggregate to qualify for last season’s Champions League, as well as managing to grab draws against both Liverpool and Atalanta in the group stage, and this will be a tough task for Celtic, who are hoping to qualify for the group stage of the Champions League for the first time since 2017/18, losing in the second round to Hungarian side Ferencvaros last term.
However, while Midtjylland are appealing at a price of 11/4, it may be best to avoid the 1X2 market in this one, particularly given the transfer situation surrounding the Danish club.
There aren’t a ton of stats available for this match, which could work to our advantage, as it means there aren’t a ton of stats available to the bookmakers.
Last season in the Scottish Premier League, matches involving Celtic averaged just over 10 corners, which perhaps explains why the corner line for this fixture is around the 9.5 mark.
However, Celtic’s matches in the UEFA Europa League last season averaged 8.67 corners per game, and given those fixtures resemble much closer the standard of opposition the Bhoys are up against here, that looks like a more reliable line.
Considering that, the 19/20 about UNDER 9.5 CORNERS in this match stands out and is the second recommended bet in the first-leg of this tie.
Score prediction: Celtic 0-0 Midtjylland (Sky Bet odds: 9/1)
Odds correct at 1715 BST (19/07/21)
We are committed in our support of safer gambling. Recommended bets are advised to over-18s and we strongly encourage readers to wager only what they can afford to lose.
If you are concerned about your gambling, please call the National Gambling Helpline / GamCare on 0808 8020 133.