Group H to take shape with Celtic and Barcelona wins

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Celtic can take a huge step towards qualification for the knockout stages of the Champions League with a win over AC Milan.

The Glasgow giants welcome the seven-time champions of Europe to Celtic Park but needn’t be intimidated given the current plight of the Rossoneri.

Massimiliano Allegri’s men currently lie 13th in Serie A, some 20 points behind leaders Juventus, and their away form in Europe’s top competition means a midweek boost to their confidence is unlikely.

The Italians have failed to win on their last four road trips in the Champions League and have tasted victory just twice in 13 games away from the San Siro, leaving the 11/8 available on a win appearing to offer little value.

Instead the 2/1 on Celtic, who have won six of their last eight home ties in the tournament, offers bigger returns and looks a much safer bet.

Neil Lennon’s men have lost just two of their last 12 European fixtures in front of a home crowd and the only visiting side to win at Celtic Park inside 90 minutes in 11 matches is Barcelona.

Further swinging the pendulum of favourability in Celtic’s direction is Milan’s dismal record in the UK.

From 10 visits to Blighty AC have secured just one win – a 1-0 defeat of Manchester United in 2005 – losing five and drawing four of their other games.

Celtic may have struggled for goals in the Champions League so far but after smashing seven in their last two domestic  outings the evens on offer for over 2.5 goals in the match certainly appeals.

Elsewhere in Group H, Barcelona will put Ajax’s solid home record under intense scrutiny and are favoured for the win at 8/15.

The Dutch giants may have lost only two of their last 25 home games in all competitions but after succumbing to the Catalan outfit 4-0 last time out another three points looks a certainty for the Spaniards – with a repeat  of the 4-0 score line priced at 18/1.

Ajax have scored in six of their last eight home European ties though, making the 3/4 on both teams to score an enticing prospect and with five of the eight La Liga goals Barca have shipped coming in the last 30 minutes of games the 21/20 on Ajax scoring the last goal of the game also appeals.

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

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James Curtis

After studying for a degree in journalism and gaining his NCTJ, James contributed to a wide range of papers, online publications and broadcasters including the South London Press, Press Association and Sky Sports News before joining the Ladbrokes News team.