Celtic vs Bayer LeverkusenUEFA Europa League, KO: 20:00 Sep 30, 2021, Celtic Park
CELTIC will be seeking a much-needed pick-me-up when they play host to Bayer Leverkusen in the Europa League on Thursday night.
The optimism surrounding Ange Postecoglou's side in the opening weeks of the campaign has quickly evaporated following Celtic's worst start to a Scottish Premiership season in 23 years.
The Hoops were left to rue several missed chances on Sunday, as Dundee United battled to a hard-fought 1-1 draw at Celtic Park
That means Celtic have won just one their last four matches across all competitions, a sequence that started when Postecoglou's side threw away a two-goal lead to lose 4-3 to Real Betis in a barnstorming start to Europa League Group G.
The Bhoys can expect little respite when they return to continental commitments on Thursday night when faced with a Bayer Leverkusen team that are going great guns in the Bundesliga.
Leverkusen are under new management this season and it's been an encouraging start for Gerardo Seoane, with the Swiss coach posting four wins from six in the German top-flight as well as a 2-1 win over Ferencvaros in their Europa League opener.
Celtic have won just one of their last seven Europa League group games and the bookies odds suggest that trend will continue, with a Hoops win priced up at 38/13 (SBK) while the draw is trading at 27/10 with the same firm.
Bayer Leverkusen defeated Rangers in this competition two seasons ago and the German guests are even-money (SBK) favourites to topple the green half of Glasgow on Thursday night.
As already alluded, Leverkusen have started the season like a house on fire, with their only defeat to date coming against an Erling Haaland-inspired Borussia Dortmund outfit, in a frantic game that finished 4-3.
Gerardo Seoane's free-scoring side netted three times on that occasion and they have notched up at least two strikes in six of their eight outings across all competitions this season so far.
Celtic, on the other hand, leaked a lofty 19 strikes in last season's section and question marks continue to surround the Bhoys brittle backline after their collapse against Betis on matchday one.
Postecoglou isn't without his defensive problems to seek and it's worth noting that Celtic have shipped two or more goals in nine of their last 11 non-qualifier Europa League assignments.
With that in mind, coupled with the fact that Die Werkself have won six of their eight games this season, I'll happily to back Bayer Leverkusen to make the net bulge at least twice on Thursday night.
I'll also head to the player card market and back Celtic's Ismaila Soro to collect what would be his fourth booking of the campaign at 11/4 with Bet 365.
If selected, the tough-tackling Hoops midfielder could be tasked with keeping tabs on Germany's latest teenage sensation Florian Wirtz, who has scored in each of his last five appearances for Leverkusen.
This UEFA Europa League match between Celtic and Bayer Leverkusen will be played on Sep 30, 2021 and kick off at 20:00. Check below for our tipsters best Celtic vs Bayer Leverkusen prediction. You may also visit our dedicated betting previews section for the most up to date previews.