Celtic notched three times in the first leg, but will struggle to score once away to Malmo FF, claims Michael Lintorn...
"Atletico Madrid and Juventus are not just the only two of Malmo FF's previous nine Champions League visitors to beat them, they are the only ones to have scored against them too."
Malmo FF 2.6613/8 v Celtic 2.829/5; The Draw 3.711/4
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If Celtic have even the slightest inclination to fall under complacency's spell as they defend a 3-2 Celtic Park scoreline, a look at Malmo FF's performances in the previous two preliminary rounds should be enough to snap them out of it.
On both occasions, the Swedish champions were untidy in the first leg, only to see off opponents with powerful second-leg displays. They recovered from a home bore draw with Zalgiris Vilnius to win 1-0 away, and then charged back from 2-0 down to Red Bull Salzburg with a 3-0 triumph.
Their record at the Swedbank Stadion is another reason for the Bhoys to be wary, with their latest four matches there delivering four victories, ten goals for and just one against - a penalty in a fixture that they led 2-0 and were reduced to ten men in.
Much as Malmo FF can draw on their success in the past two rounds to give them confidence of completing a comeback, Celtic will reflect on their results so far as evidence of their ability to convert a slender 3-2 advantage.
They were confronted by the supposedly bothersome hurdle of an away second leg both times, but went ahead in Glasgow and refused to relinquish their grip. Firstly, they topped up a 2-0 win over Stjarnan with a 4-1 romp in Iceland, and then they held on for a 0-0 at Karabakh having travelled with a 1-0 lead.
The primary team news drama ahead of the contest is whether right back Mikael Lustig will be back from the hamstring injury suffered in the initial meeting, though understudy Saidy Janko's impressive weekend outing against Dundee United will calm concerns.
Everything has got a little heated, with Celtic accused of playing dirtily and lacking fitness by key figures in the Malmo FF camp since the first leg and the Swedes responding by claiming to have been disrespected by the Scottish media misrepresenting their comments.
This writer won't be making a play in this market, with the closeness of the odds emphasising the uncertainty of the outcome. However, Malmo FF are entitled to feel a touch undervalued given that their recent home Champions League results read P7 W4 D1 L2, with the defeats inflicted by 2013/14 finalists Atletico Madrid and 2014/15 runners-up Juventus.
Both Teams to Score
The great Malmo FF "Both Teams to Score? No" streak was extinguished at Parkhead, but it is when they are hosts that it is most prevalent. Eleven successive continental encounters at their Swedbank Stadion have ended with at least one of the sheets still as clean as Sepp Blatter professes to be.
Indeed, Atletico and Juventus are not just the only two of their previous nine Champions League visitors to beat them, they are the only ones to have scored against them too.
The likes of Sparta Prague, Olympiakos and Red Bull Salzburg (twice) were hushed, and Celtic have fired qualifying round blanks away to the likes of less-accomplished trio Elfsborg, Shakhter Karagandy and Karabakh in the last 25 months. Malmo FF are an enticing 4.03/1 to shut them out.
Back both teams to score? No @ 2.47/5