Celtic vs AZ AlkmaarUEFA Europa League, KO: 19:45 Aug 18, 2021, Celtic Park
CELTIC will be looking to continue their mini-revival when they play host to AZ ALkmaar in the first leg of their Europa League play-off tie on Wednesday night.
The Hoops' slow start to their summer transition came back to bite them as they were dumped out of the Champions League qualifiers by FC Midtjylland last month, on a night where both of my bets banked.
However, the mood music at Celtic has changed significantly since that setback, with Ange Postecoglou's side posting four wins on the spin to lift the gloom in Glasgow's east end.
That upturn in form has brought a real sense of optimism back to Celtic Park as the Bhoys bid to qualify for the Europa League group stage for a fourth consecutive year.
Standing in Celtic's way is Dutch outfit AZ Alkmaar, who finished in third place in the Eredivisie last season.
Pascal Jansen and his players' preparations for this crunch qualifier were far from ideal, slumping to a 1-0 loss at Waalwijk last weekend.
Celtic head into this first-leg showdown as 21/20 favourites with Bet 365 while the draw is chalked up at 5/2 with the same firm.
AZ are winless in each of their last four road trips and the bookies odds suggest that trend will continue on Wednesday, with an away win trading at 13/5 (Bet 365).
Another Celtic triumph at the aforementioned price makes plenty of appeal but I'm more attracted to the even-money (1/1) on offer with William Hill for the Scottish giants to score two or more goals on Wednesday night.
The Hoops appear to have turned the corner in terms of their attacking play and the Parkhead faithful are quickly warming to new boss Ange Postecoglou's attacking philosophy.
Free-scoring Celtic have made the net bulge 16 times across their last three matches, notching at least three goals in each of those respective outings.
Indeed, AZ will represent a step up in class, but the Dutch guests sold two of their star players over the summer, not to mention they will be without suspended Swedish international Jesper Karlsson.
With all that in mind, coupled with another capacity Parkhead crowd being permitted, I'll happily back the fast-improving Bhoys to bag another brace on Wednesday night.
I'll also dip into PaddyPower's Featured Bet market where Celtic to win, Celtic most corners and AZ most cards is perhaps worth a speculative punt at a tasty 13/2.
Celtic have been strong performers in the corner markets in recent weeks – racking up 30 flag kicks across their last three matches – and it's also worth noting that each of the last three visiting sides to Parkhead have picked up at least two cautions.
What's more, the above-mentioned combination has clicked in each of Celtic's last two matches on home turf and that only adds to the appeal of siding with a repeat on Wednesday night at a value 13/2 (PaddyPower).
This UEFA Europa League match between Celtic and AZ Alkmaar will be played on Aug 18, 2021 and kick off at 19:45. Check below for our tipsters best Celtic vs AZ Alkmaar prediction. You may also visit our dedicated betting previews section for the most up to date previews.