SCOTTISH football has taken such a tumble Celtic are underdogs for tonight’s trip to Kazakhstan.
Astana lost three of 14 Champions League games last season and were unbeaten at home with draws against Atletico Madrid, Benfica and Galatasaray failing in the group stages.
By contrast they never won away so if Celtic can avoid defeat or even lose 1-0 or 2-1 they’ll feel confident of finishing the job next week. And the Hoops are still favourites to qualify at 8-15 with Ladbrokes while Astana are 2-1 at Skybet.
Last time they visited Kazakhstan it was a 2-0 defeat for Celtic against Shakhter Karagandy in Astana but they overturned that result with a 3-0 home triumph.
Brendan Rodgers will be desperate to avoid another 2-0 shocker but after losing 1-0 at Lincoln Red Imps in the last round it’s difficult to predict what we’ll get from his men.
And of course he has a defensive crisis with five centre-halves out – Erik Sviatchenko, Jozo Simunovic, Dedryck Boyata, Kristoffer Ajer and new boy Kolo Toure.
That means a likely start for Efe Ambrose whose mistake led to Red Imps’ goal. With Ambrose in I’d consider Astana to score 2+ at 19-10 with boylesports.
Rodgers isn’t likely to go gung ho but he’ll know the value of an away goal and without so many stoppers attack may be the best form of defensive. Both to score has a chance at 6-5 with Stan James.
Bets to Consider
Astana to score 2+
Both teams to score