Celtic vs CFR ClujUEFA Europa League, KO: 20:00 Oct 3, 2019, Celtic Park
CELTIC's Champions League qualification conquerors CFR Cluj will pitch up at Parkhead on Thursday evening for the second time in less than two months.
After shattering Celtic's dreams of returning to Europe's elite club competition, Cluj were piped to a group-stage place in the playoff round by Slavia Prague and have since parachuted into the Europa League.
Fate has conspired to reacquaint the Romanians with Celtic in Group E and and if their Summer showdowns are anything to go by then we could be in for another enthralling encounter in Glasgow's east-end.
Celtic found themselves on the wrong end of a 4-3 thriller a few months ago – a result which had some of the Hoops faithful baying for club hierarchy blood – however, since that devastating defeat the Scottish giants have responded admirably and are undefeated in 11 games in all competitions.
Indeed, last Saturday's draw with Hibernian at Easter Road was disappointing, however, prior to that setback Neil Lennon's league leaders dazzled in the Old Firm derby at Ibrox and have put in impressive showings on the continent against AIK and Rennes respectively.
Dan Petrescu's men have also been motoring along nicely since that frantic night in Glasgow and laid down a marker in their section opener when they triumphed at home against Lazio last time out.
Domestically, the Romanian champions lead the way in Liga 1 after 11 games – having only lost only once to date – and the Railwaymen are averaging over 2.5 goals per-game.
Yet, despite progressing and putting the ball in the net four times during their last trip to Parkehad, Petrescu's team are big odds-against at 13/2 (Unibet) to prevail on Thursday night.
A home win looks bit short to me at those odds given the fact the Hoops failed defeat Cluj in two attempts back in August, not mention Celtic have only won seven of their last 26 Europa League ties.
A repeat of August's 4-3 away win is far fetched and is priced at 400/1 (Bet 365) however, one incident that occurred that night that is feasible on Thursday is French striker Odsonne Edouard getting on the scoresheet
Edouard has made an exquisite start to the season having scored eight times in 15 appearances – one of which came against Cluj at Celtic Park – and I fancy the Frenchman to add to this tally during this tussle.
The Hoops hitman tends to flourish in big fixtures and he is 15/4 (Betway) to score the opener, however, with another goalfest not beyond belief here, I would be more inclined to opt for Edouard in the anytime goalscorer market at 7/5 (UniBet)
What's more, with the likes of Ryan Christie and James Forrest both scoring frequently the 4/5 (William Hill) on offer for Celtic to score over 1.5 goals appeals.
The host have scored at least twice in nine of their last 10 games at Celtic Park in all competitions and you will rarely see Lennon's men as high as 4/5 to hit the back of the net twice in one game in their own backyard.
Yet, at the other end of the park Celtic will have to tread carefully against a Cluj side who carry an attacking threat of their own.
French forward Billiel Omrani done the damage the last time these two familiar foes locked horns and he looks overpriced at 5/1 (BetVictor) to score anytime should he be passed fit to feature.
Dunfermline, Hearts and Kilmarnock have all scored at Celtic Park this season and as we know Cluj clocked up four goals at this venue just over seven weeks ago – all of which attracts me to the 19/20 (SportingBet) on offer for Cluj to grab a goal on Thursday night.
A case could be made for either side to collect all three points here, however, this looks like a tough one to call – despite the bookies suggesting otherwise.
Celtic will take confidence from their fine showing in France on week one, as will Cluj after upsetting Lazio.
Furthermore, the visitors have only lost two of their last nine away matches which makes backing Cluj on the double chance at 6/4 (PaddyPower) a tempting angle to consider.
However, Celtic have been pretty much flawless since they last faced Cluj and they will of course be roared on by a raucous home crowd.
Yet, the odds on a home win here are not very enticing – especially against such dangerous opposition – so for reasons already disused goals could be the way to go in Glasgow.
This UEFA Europa League match between Celtic and CFR Cluj will be played on Oct 3, 2019 and kick off at 20:00