Champions League Betting: Celtic to keep face with a draw at Juve

The game is up for Celtic, but they can save face with a draw in Turin

James Horncastle takes a look at Wednesday night's Champions League last-16 fixtures with Celtic on a face saving mission to Italy and Valencia looking to upset the odds at Paris St Germain...

"Taking squad rotation and the uncertainty of how to approach a game like this into account, you'd think Celtic might just have a chance of coming away from Turin with a result. Back them to draw on the night at 5.69/2."

"We need a miracle now," Celtic manager Neil Lennon admitted after his side's 3-0 first leg defeat to Juventus at Parkhead two weeks ago. Unless the Italian champions and current leaders in Serie A have the sort of blackout Milan experienced against Deportivo La Coruna in 2004 and Liverpool in 2005 then Celtic, you feel, really have no hope of progressing. The market certainly sees it that way - they're 110.0109/1 to qualify for the quarter-finals

The interest here, I guess, lies in how Juventus approach the game. Mentally, they're among the toughest out there. You don't go 49 matches unbeaten in the league, something that they did between September 11, 2011 and November 3, 2012 unless you possess the ability to keep your focus and your concentration levels high whatever the occasion, whoever the opponent. Juventus have only lost at their new stadium twice since its inauguration 18 months ago and have conceded three goals there just once. Celtic, lest we forget, require four. 

So if their chances of qualifying are slim to none, what else can we expect. Well, it's anticipated that Juventus will rest some players, changing their world-class midfield around. Then there's the scoreline. A 3-0 lead isn't a dangerous one - you'd rather have it, than not, right? - but finding the correct mentality is difficult. Milan experienced this after beating Arsenal 4-0 at San Siro last year. They then went to the Emirates to defend that lead and lost 3-0, only just scraping through. 

Now of course there are some differences here. First, there's the calibre of the opposition. Celtic, most would say, are weaker than Arsenal. Second, there's the not insignificant fact that Juventus play the second leg at home, whereas Milan's was away. However, taking squad rotation and the uncertainty of how to approach a game like this into account, you'd think Celtic might just have a chance of coming away from Turin with a result. Back them to draw on the night at 5.69/2.

Across the Alps in France, Paris Saint-Germain are favourites to qualify for the quarter-finals at 1.152/13 after returning from their trip to Mestalla a fortnight ago with a 2-1 win over Valencia. Ninety-five per cent of teams who have won the first leg by that score-line away from home have gone through to the next round since 1970-71.

It was an almost perfect performance from PSG. I say 'almost' because, as Carlo Ancelotti admitted, "the end of the game was not good for us."

Adil Rami pulled one back for Valencia in the 90th minute, which gives them a glimmer of hope, and PSG's top scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic was sent off and banned for two games for an incident in the 92nd. 

How much will his absence affect PSG? Not as much as you might think. Ibra has missed five games this season. PSG have won three of those and drawn the other two. Obviously, they'd rather have him in their side. He's a talisman. But it's clear they can cope and are capable of finding goals in other areas, particularly from Ezequiel Lavezzi who has got four in the Champions League this season. Back him to score at... 

Saturday's surprise defeat to relegation threatened Reimsraised some interesting questions. Sure, PSG were the victims of some poor decisions and the pitch certainly didn't help either, but once again their attitude, the sense that they're above encounters like these, cost them. General manager Leonardo alluded to this afterwards.

"If we analyse the situation," he said, "we can say that we are not made to play these types of games. We're not made for games like that, we're a team made to play in Europe. PSG is for Europe, not for France. The playing conditions worked against us while playing against an ultra-defensive team, as did the circumstances of playing every three days."

Getting up for Valencia shouldn't be a problem then, according to that logic. PSG can afford to be confident at home. They have yet to be beaten by two clear goals at the Parc this season, which is what Valencia need, and have kept 13 clean sheets in 20 games there. Back them to record another one on Wednesday night at 2.727/4.
 
Recommended Bets 
Back a Juventus-Celtic draw @ 5.59/2
Back a PSG clean sheet @ 2.727/4 

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