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Champions League: Vidal to score in Glasgow and PSG to keep Valencia out

Neil Lennon's side face a tough opponent in the shape of Juventus

"The greatest threat Juventus pose Celtic is likely to come from their midfield trio of Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Claudio Marchisio."

Brand new Betfair football writer and European football expert James Horncastle makes his bow with a preview of Tuesday night's Champions League games in Glasgow and and Valencia.

One man's enemy is another man's friend. Rangers offered Juventus their training facilities ahead of Tuesday's Champions League clash with Celtic. Although down in the Scottish Third Division, an opportunity to perhaps contribute to their rivals' elimination from the competition was apparently not to be missed. 

The last time Celtic hosted Juventus at Parkhead in the Champions League, they won 4-3. That was 12 years ago. Current manager Neil Lennon played. Henrik Larsson scored a penalty. Chris Sutton found the net twice. And while ultimately just a meaningless final group stage match, it was a performance that lives long in the memory. Nothing was riding on it and Celtic played with abandon against a second string Juventus side. 

That explains the high scoreline. And now that there's something at stake, don't expect the same this time around. Gigi Buffon was on the bench that night in 2001. He'll be back between the posts on Tuesday and looking to make it four consecutive Champions League games without conceding a goal. 

There is hope for Celtic, however. Juventus' defence is banged up at the moment. Giorgio Chiellini is missing and Sunday's impressive 2-0 win against Fiorentina was their first clean sheet in four games. Juventus have also, on occasion, laboured in front of goal: think Nordsjaelland away when they had 33 shots but only scored once and disappointingly drew 1-1.

The greatest threat Juventus pose Celtic is likely to come from their midfield trio of Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Claudio Marchisio, which is considered the best in Europe after Barcelona's. "If Celtic want to play football, we'll play football," Pirlo said. "But if they want to battle, we are ready to go to battle." 

And who better to have for a battle than El Guerriero or The Warrior himself Arturo Vidal. He found the net in both games against Chelsea this season so a price of 6.611/2 to be first goalscorer tomorrow night looks a tempting one.

Elsewhere on the continent, Valencia's encounter with Paris Saint-Germain sees an impoverished club face a nouveau riche one. It's austerity against affluence. The Spanish side has been forced into selling its top talent over recent years while their French counterparts have instead been buying it up from around the world.

Interestingly, it's been to Ligue 1 that Valencia have looked to replace their departing stars. Adil Rami was picked up from Lille, Tino Costa from Montpellier and Sofiane Feghouli from Grenoble. All have experience of playing against Paris Saint-Germain and know what to expect even though, it must be said, their opponents have changed a lot since they each last met them. 

Still, Valencia as a club also haven't lost to a French team in 17 meetings since 1980. With history on their side, maybe it's not so farcical to forecast a Valencia win. However, a sudden change of manager in December, justified on the basis that Mauricio Pellegrino's results were good enough on the continent but not on the domestic front mean there's some uncertainty about how his successor Ernesto Valverde will do in Europe. Discipline might also be an issue. Valencia are the scrappiest side left in the competition. Their players have been shown 13 yellow cards and two reds. 

As for Paris Saint-Germain, well they're are finally beginning to live up to the hype. Their 2-1 victory over a talented Porto side at the Parc des Princes in December meant they finished top of the group and took more points than anyone at that stage of the competition. It was also the first in a formidable run of 11 wins and no defeats in their next 12 games. 

Goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu conceded for the first time in 949 minutes against Bastia on Friday and it bears remembering that Paris Saint-Germain let in just three goals in the Champions League group stages. Theirs was the best defence in the competition and while Thiago Silva is expected to be absent through injury on Tuesday, as the above stat indicates, they've coped well without him for the last three weeks and look a decent bet to come away from the Mestalla with another clean sheet. Back that at 3.65n/a.

Recommended Bets

Arturo Vidal to score first in Celtic v Juventus at 6.611/2
PSG to keep a clean sheet at Valencia at 3.65n/a

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11 February 2013

Champions League

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