Celtic v Juventus: Hooper to land first knockout blow

Gary Hooper is used to getting the scoring started at Celtic Park

Christian Crowther previews Celtic's Champions League round-of-16 first leg against Juventus, offering some accompanying tips....

"Celtic have scored four in each of their last three home matches, giving up a goal in two of those, while Juventus haven't fired a blank in their last 15 fixtures."
Best Bet: Back over 2.5 goals in Celtic v Juventus @ 2.285/4

Celtic v Juventus, Tuesday 19:45, ITV, Match Odds: Celtic 5.04/1, Juventus 1.875/6, The Draw 3.7511/4

Celtic have surpassed all expectations by reaching this stage of the Champions League for the first time since 2007/08. Nevertheless, the Bhoys fully deserve their place in the last 16 after mounting a terrific group stage campaign underpinned by domineering form at Celtic Park, where they went unbeaten.

The historic triumph over the might of Barcelona in their second home game showed just what the Scottish champions can achieve in front of their vociferous support.

To put that victory into context, the Hoops are one of only three teams to have conquered the Catalans across their 38 games to date this season.

If Neil Lennon's side are to progress to the quarter-finals for the first time (in the tournament's current format) then a good start in front of their faithful is imperative.

Encouragingly for Celtic fans, a run of six straight SPL home wins since their qualification-clinching win over Spartak Moscow lends extra weight to their case for taking a lead to Turin. 

Visiting Juventus will provide a sizeable obstacle to progression, however, not least because Opta inform us that they remain one of only four teams unbeaten in this season's competition.  

The Italian champions have also recovered just in time from a recent domestic wobble to put Chievo and Fiorentina to the sword in their last two matches.  

At least history appears to favour the Scots for the first leg though, as Opta reveal each of their previous four Champions League clashes with Juve have ended in victory for the hosts. 

Added to this, no Italian team has won a Champions League game at Celtic Park over four previous trips to Glasgow. 

Over 2.5 goals

Goals between these sides were haven't been hard to come by in previous clashes. As Opta indicate, the last two competitive meetings produced no fewer than 12 goals. When the sides last collided in the group stages of the competition back in 2001, Celtic prevailed as 4-3 winners at Celtic Park before losing 3-2 in Turin.

More recently, Celtic have scored four in each of their last three home matches, giving up a goal in two of those, while Juventus haven't fired a blank in their last 15 fixtures.

First Goalscorer

Every fan in green and white would have breathed an almighty sigh of relief when the January transfer window closed and leading Gary Hooper stayed put. The Hoops' leading scorer has bagged ten his last ten appearances, including the first at Celtic Park on three of the last four occasions. With Georgios Samaras still an injury doubt, there is no man more likely to grab the headlines than the Norwich target. 

Best Bet: Back over 2.5 goals @ 2.285/4
Other Recommended Bet: Back Gary Hooper to score first @ 8.88/1

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