Celtic v Shakhter Karagandy: Bhoys must jump through hoops

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Celtic have left themselves a herculean task to qualify for the Champions League group stages, but a favourable history of turning ties around and their extra quality are both big factors on the side of the Scottish champions as they prepare for their second leg against Shakhter Karagandy.

Not even 12 months have elapsed since Neil Lennon’s side recorded that famous victory over Barcelona in the group stages of last season’s Champions League. However, they now face the humiliating prospect of an exit to Kazakhstani champions Shakhter before they even make it to the competition proper, going down 2-0 in the first leg.

Far from being finished, though, there is plenty of evidence to back-up Celtic’s 10/11 price that they can overturn the deficit and still qualify.

For starters, the first leg defeat owed as much to Celtic’s poor finishing as it did to attacking endeavour from Shakhter, whose first goal came courtesy of a long throw hurled into the box.

Celtic were clearly the better side in possession in Kazakhstan and on their own patch can exploit their visitors deficiencies, but this time with the missing ruthlessness from the first leg.

The home side need at least two goals and encouragingly this is not usually a problem for the Bhoys at Parkhead, especially spurned on by a bumper crowd.

The Scots have notched at least twice in nine out of their last ten games in front of their own and Celtic to grab over 2.5 goals at 11/10 certainly looks worth a stab here.

Another prominent feature of their goal-scoring at Parkhead in the early throws of this season has been their ability to notch in either half, where Celtic are 2/5 to open their account in the first 45.

Celtic hopes will be further boosted by the expected availability of many of their top attacking talents such Georgios Samaras, Virgil van Dijk, Anthony Stokes, Derk Boerrigter and James Forrest.
With two goals to his name already this season, Forrest’s more generous price of 2/1 to register anytime, looks the pick of the other high-profile candidates to score for the home side.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Christian Crowther

Give Christian a sport with anything remotely spherical in it and he’ll happily while away the hours watching it on the box. However, he’d much prefer writing about, playing or betting on golf, football, cricket, tennis, snooker.... you get the picture.