Michael Lintorn focuses on under 2.5 goals for this week's Champions League treble...
"Across six meetings with HJK Helsinki, Helsingborgs and Cliftonville, Celtic conceded just once."
At this stage of last season's Champions League qualifying process, 57% of the first legs contained under 2.5 goals. With unders trumping overs in the second phase this term too, this week's treble focuses on three games in which a low score appears most likely...
Back under 2.5 goals in PAOK v Metalist @ 1.558/15
One legacy of Greece's Euro 2004 triumph is that their teams now enjoy an overblown reputation as defensive maestros. PAOK have actually earned theirs though, their second-place finish in 2012/13 owing a huge debt to a backline that were breached only 19 times in 30 league games, keeping 14 clean sheets. Giorgos Katsikas and co will meet equals in a Metalist rearguard that was foiled five times in 10 Europa League matches last season, with seven of those fixtures not making it past the 2.5 goal mark.
Back under 2.5 goals in Molde v Legia Warsaw @ 1.574/7
Molde's pursuit of a third straight Norwegian title got off to a rotten start, but there has been a drastic improvement since May. They have only lost twice in 17 games and won both legs of their last qualifier against Sligo Rovers. The secret of their success is a defensive strength enhanced by the return of Vegard Forren after an unsuccessful January move to Southampton. Molde have conceded only three goals in their last six Champions League qualifiers, the last five of which ducked under 2.5 goals. Legia Warsaw have scored more than once in just two of their last eight away European ties.
Back under 2.5 goals in Celtic v Elfsborg @ 1.9520/21
Celtic's success in Champions League preliminaries since last summer owes plenty to their ability to keep clean sheets when the pressure is cranked up. Across six meetings with HJK Helsinki, Helsingborgs and Cliftonville, they conceded just once - in the first encounter of the sextet - so they won't be phased by latest opponents Elfsborg's 11-1 demolition of Latvian rookies Daugava in the last round. The Bhoys scored exactly two in all bar one of their half-dozen qualifiers and won both legs 2-0 when they faced last season's Swedish champions Helsingborgs.
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