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Big Match Breakdown: AEK Athens v Celtic

Cian Carroll | 14 August 2018

A preview with odds of the UCL clash

Celtic travel to Greece for the second leg of their third round Champions League qualifier against AEK Athens in a bit of trouble.

The Glasgow giants could only manage a 1-1 draw at Celtic Park despite the Greek champions being down to 10 men. Celtic will know they must score to have any chance of progress.

You can catch all the action live from 7:00pm on BT Sport 2. And the Coral News Team have you covered for in-depth analysis and tips with our Big Match Breakdown.

Head-to-Head & Form

We’ve only got the previous game at Parkhead to go on as the two sides have never met competitively before.

So, in terms of past meetings, there’s a lack of context. But, at least in terms of form, we can gauge a little more. Celtic were surprisingly beaten at the weekend by Heart of Midlothian 1-0 at Tynecastle.

And, under Rodgers, the Hoops have a slightly iffy UCL qualifiers record away from home. They’ve lost to Lincoln Red Imps, Hapoel Be’er Sheva, and Astana on the road.

Likely XIs

Rodgers has some concerns heading to Athens. The former Liverpool boss will be without Kristoffer Ajer and Dedryck Boyata in the centre of defence.

That will mean another start for young star, Jack Hendry. Olivier Ntcham is expected to start in midfield alongside Scott Brown, with Tom Rogic in behind Odsonne Edouard up top. Moussa Dembele will be fit to start on the bench.

AEK boss Marinos Ouzounidis has no absences from the first leg and could choose the same XI here that started at Celtic Park.

Key Battles

The Greek Super League title holders’ game-plan worked a treat in the first leg. Although they conceded early, Ouzounidis instructed his side to sit deep and counter on Celtic.

Rodgers’ side started ferociously. But AEK soon weathered the storm and began picking Celtic off on the break. After they equalised, the Athens outfit sat in a very low block with two banks of four.

Expect a similar set-up here. AEK know the onus is on Celtic to score so they can continue to play counter-attacking football. James Forrest and Callum McGregor will need to hug the touchlines and stretch their opponents. Tom Rogic will need to be at his creative best to open the Greek side up.

Match Odds

AEK are 33/20 for the win, with Celtic out at 19/10. The Draw is available at 21/10.

The Coral traders are expecting a tight affair and we agree, this could go to the wire. Celtic have made the group stages of this competition every year under Rodgers.

And they tend to do it the hard way. However, they’ll need to overcome an ominous record. Only six times out of 27 has a Scottish side progressed after drawing the first leg at home 1-1. And Celtic have only achieved it twice in their history.

It would be no surprise if this went to extra-time with the scores level at 1-1 again at full-time. It’s 24/5 for that Correct Score. Both Teams To Score is Evens.

Midfield magician Rogic has a tendency to score big goals when it matters. The Australian 16/5 Anytime. Striker Edouard is 17/10 in the same market.

Click here for more AEK v Celtic odds

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All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing