Celtic v AEK Athens: Open game expected as Greeks target away goal

Scott Brown and Brendan Rodgers Celtic
Celtic are unbeaten in five already this season
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The first-leg of this tie will be crucial and the visitors have promised to attack. Betfair's football writer Frankie Monkhouse gives a nice-price prediction...

"With fitness and momentum onside the betting has no problems siding with another home win, but backers of the Exchange will get a very decent [1.79] about the locals"

Celtic v AEK Athens
Wednesday, 19:45
Live on Celtic TV

Celtic showing strong early season form

Celtic are into the third of a marathon four Champions League qualifiers and face their toughest test to date when Greek Super League rulers AEK Athens come to Glasgow on Wednesday evening for the first-leg.

The Bhoys have played five times already this season, returning four wins and a draw. They beat Alashkert 3-0 home and away, edged Rosenborg 3-1, holding on for a 0-0 in the return, before getting their Scottish Premiership defence started with an impressive 3-1 cheer over Livingston on Saturday.

It took Tom Rogic just eight minutes to get the 2018/19 show on the road as The Hoops aim for eight titles in-a-row and a treble-treble. Traders fully expect their dominance of Scottish football to continue for another season at least.

Record signing Edouard added a second on 26 minutes before Ntcham rounded things off not long after the re-start. Robinson knocked in a consolation for the newly promoted Livi Lions in stoppage-time. That win came at a cost as scorer of the third goal, Olivier Ntcham suffered an ankle injury and the 22-year-old Frenchman now looks a doubt for Wednesday's match. That rates as a real blow for Brendan Rodgers who also has star striker Moussa Dembele, Lewis Morgan and Deryck Boyata out.

Athens believe defence is Celtic's Achilles heel

AEK Athens have had plenty to say for themselves in the build-up to this one as they look to heap pressure on the home side. They know scoring a goal in Glasgow will be crucial to their chances of reaching the next stage and manager Marinos Ouzounidis believes that although Celtic are impressive going forward, defence is their weak spot. Speaking to the press this week the former Greece defender admitted that the Scots are a fast, aggressive team, but defensively they are not invincible. He had confidence in his own side and assured fans they have the ability going forward to do damage in Glasgow. Ouzounidis gave a feeling of the mood in his camp when adding an away goal would give them a real chance as Celtic are not as strong on the road.

AEK Athens were crowned champions last season thanks to 21 wins and seven draws from 30 league appearances. The 70 points on the board saw them cross the line six better than runners-up PAOK Salonika with 50 goals scored and only a dozen conceded. They are hampered by an injury to club captain Petros Mantolos.

Betting sides with the home win but there's value about

It's difficult not to be impressed by Celtic's form in the early part of this season. They faced a real banana skin against a Livingston side high on confidence and managed by former Rangers striker Kenny Miller, a man who had hurt the champions many times during his playing days. Celtic remained professional and secured the points at a canter. With fitness and momentum onside, the betting has no problems siding with another home win, but backers of the Exchange will get a very decent [1.79] about the locals. That looks cracking value with 8/11 the general feeling in the Sportsbook world. There's a chunky [5.8] for the visitors, a bigger price than the draw at [3.6].

Athens promise to go on the attack

AEK Athens have already told us they plan on going on the attack and scoring the away goal that'll ensure Celtic are tested in the return leg. Neutrals hope manager Marinos Ouzounidis is true to his word and has a pop. We're sure opposite number Brendan Rodgers would prefer it that would too, leaving gaps in the defence.

If Celtic take the chances they'll surely get they could put this one to bed at the first time of asking. The favourites have scored a dozen goals in five starts, conceding two at the other end. Interestingly, both goals were leaked at home. Both teams to score makes sense at 11/10 or the 5/4 on over 2.5 goals in the game will pull its weight in accumulators. Those looking for more can try both score in a Celtic win at 7/2. All three prices coming from the Betfair Sportsbook.

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