Celtic vs Nomme KaljuUEFA Champions League, KO: 19:45 Jul 24, 2019, Celtic Park
CELTIC managed to get past Sarajevo without much fuss and now face what should be an easier tie in the second round of Champions League qualifying.
Nobody expected Nomme Kalju to beat Shkendija in the last round, especially after the Estonians lost 1-0 at home in the first leg. But a shock 2-1 win in Macedonia took them through, lining up a dream trip to Celtic Park.
Shkendija stars branded Kalju the most defensive side they had ever faced, sitting deep and frustrating the life out of them in both legs, and the same tactics will be used in Glasgow.
Neil Lennon's side will have to show patience to break the Estonians down but they should have too much quality for Kalju on the evidence of their display against Sarajevo.
It looked like being a fraught tie when the Bosnians took the lead in the first leg but Mikey Johnston's magical equaliser settled Celtic's nerves and they eased to a 3-1 victory in Sarajevo.
There was a minor scare back at Parkhead when an error from new boy Boli Bolingoli Mbombo allowed Sarajevo to make it 1-1 on the night.
But Callum McGregor then put the Hoops back in front and the 2-1 victory was more emphatic than the scoreline suggested.
Kalju are massive underdogs in Glasgow, with Betway making them 50/1 outsiders while the Hoops are as short as 1/52 with Marathonbet. A 0-0 draw seems to be their best hope of taking anything from the first leg and even that is priced as big as 40/1 by Unibet.
The Estonians will at least be fresh and ready, with boss Roman Kozuhhovski resting almost his entire team at the weekend, while Lennon's side should be similar to the one that started against Sarajevo. Lewis Morgan deputised for the injured Johnston in that game and may have done enough to keep his place.
The only change could come at the back, with £7million new boy Christopher Jullien in contention for a first start as he builds up his fitness.
Celtic to win with a clean sheet seems the logical choice, even though they conceded in both legs against Sarajevo, but it's just 4/9 with Unibet so there's little value.
I normally steer clear of correct scores but it's the only market which offers decent odds on a Hoops victory. And I fancy this one to end 3-0, which is 11/2 with Unibet.
Lennon was unhappy with some of the Sarajevo tackling at Celtic Park, insisting the Bosnians deserved at least one red card. Kalju could also stick the boot in so it may pay to back a red card here. The only firm to offer odds on that so far are Coolbet at 2/1 but keep an eye out for the more established firms pricing it up or request the bet.
Punting on a penalty being awarded could also be a smart move, with the Estonians defending deep and putting in last-gasp challenges. However, Coolbet are again the only firm to price this up so far, offering 2/1.
Celtic's forwards are mostly odds on in the anytime scorer market but Paddy Power are offering evens on James Forrest and that looks good value.
The same firm also offer 11/2 on Bolingoli Mbombo to net and that looks generous, giving the attacking full-back came close a couple of times at home against Sarajevo.
With Kalju almost certain to sit back, it's not surprising that the bookies think most goals will come in the second half, which is a best 19/20 with Betway. I see no reason to disagree with them on that front.
This UEFA Champions League match between Celtic and Nomme Kalju will be played on Jul 24, 2019 and kick off at 19:45