AIK

AIK vs Celtic

, KO: 18:00 Aug 29, 2019, Friends Arena
Celtic

CELTIC badly needed a result against AIK last week after their Cluj calamity and they got it, taking a huge step towards the group stage of the Europa League in the process.

Pressure was growing on Hoops boss Neil Lennon after that 4-3 loss at Parkhead to the Romanians and an unconvincing League Cup win over Championship side Dunfermline.

But Celtic played with the verve that had characterised their season before those two blips, claiming a 2-0 victory that could have been even more comfortable.

I thought AIK might get some joy against a defence that had shipped five goals in the last two games and tipped a Hoops win with both teams to score.

But the Swedes showed an appalling lack of adventure in Glasgow and clearly came to play for a 0-0 draw. Their gameplan was undone early in the second half when James Forrest broke the deadlock and hopes of escaping with a one-goal defeat vanished when Odsonne Edouard smashed home a superb free-kick.

Celtic looked far more comfortable with Callum McGregor restored to central midfield after filling in at left-back against Cluj and the only disappointment was that he missed a one-on-one that would have made it 3-0 to the Hoops, ruining my 8-1 anytime scorer tip.

He did find the net in Sunday's 3-1 Premiership win over Hearts, a game in which Lennon made a few changes to give players a break before the trip to Sweden.

Keeper Craig Gordon was one of those who sat it out, as Fraser Forster made his return, but the Scot will be back between the sticks for this one as the Southampton loanee is ineligible for Europe.

Edouard was the most notable exclusion and the man who replaced him up front, Vakoun Issouf Bayo, claimed two of the goals against the Jambos, although replays suggested both were actually own goals.

But it would be a huge surprise if Edouard wasn't restored to the line-up here as he's a striker who always seems to deliver in the big games. The Frenchman is 19/10 with Betway to net at any time here and that looks good value.

AIK have no option but to attack if they want to get back into the tie but dangerman Tarik Elyounoussi, who missed the first leg due to suspension, could sit this one out too. The Norwegian hobbled off with a calf injury in the weekend win over Ostersunds and faces a sweat to see if he can recover in time.

I'm still far from convinced about Celtic's defence so the Swedes should score here, a view the bookies share as AIK are a best 9/20 to net with Marathonbet.

To get more value back one of their players in the anytime scorer market, where Iceland striker Kolbeinn Sigthorsson is a tempting 11/4 with Paddy Power. The former Ajax and Nantes hitman boasts an impressive 23 goals from 50 caps so clearly knows what it takes to score at the highest level.

Hatem Abd Elhamed has missed the last two games for Celtic through injury and may be forced to sit this one out as well, even if he recovers in time. Centre-back Kris Ajer has excelled standing in for Elhamed at right-back and should stay there, with Christopher Jullien and Nir  Biton likely to start in the middle with Jozo Simunovic out.

The SPFL champions brought in Stoke full-back Moritz Bauer on a season-long loan just a day before their clash in Stockholm but he isn't registered for this tie so Ajer is likely to stay at right-back.

The Norwegian did come off towards the end of the weekend win over Hearts but should be fit to start and is emerging as one of the most important players in this Celtic side.

Shutting up shop has never been a forte of the Hoops as they're so used to being on the front foot and attacking teams in domestic football. I can't see them playing for a 0-0 as they will know an away goal all but kills the game, leaving AIK needing four to get through.

For that reason, try a requested bet on offer at Ladbrokes of both teams to score, over 2.5 match goals and either team to win, which is 15/8.

This match between AIK and Celtic will be played on Aug 29, 2019 and kick off at 18:00

AIK vs Celtic Betting Tips & Predictions
Odsonne Edouard anytime scorer
19/10
Betway
Kolbeinn Sightorsson anytime scorer
11/4
PaddyPower
Both teams to score, over 2.5 match goals and either team to win
15/8
Ladbrokes

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