Does Celtic’s record in Europe give false hope for Bhoys ahead of Man City battle?
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | September 26, 2016
Don’t be fooled by Celtic’s record in Europe against English teams (P18, W7, D5, L6). Their Champions League home encounter with Manchester City is going to sort the men from the Bhoys.
The last month or so has been about emphatic Scottish Premiership scorelines for Brendan Rodgers’ charges at Parkhead; 4-1 over Aberdeen, a 5-1 Old Firm rout and hitting Kilmarnock for six last time out. Oh, and a 7-0 humbling in the Nou Camp at the hands of Barcelona.
Nothing could better highlight the contrast between Celtic on the home front and in Europe than that. Up next for Rodgers and company is trying to plot the downfall of Pep Guardiola, who has just the perfect 10 wins as Man City manager.
Will Celtic find Europe pointless?
It’s a good time to plug that Coral offer Champions League Bhoys specials odds relating to how they get on in their pool; we go 4/6 Celtic fail to win a match and 4/1 for their continental campaign in Group C to end pointless.
While that may sound a little negative and stinging for Scottish supporters, it is sadly a very realistic prospect. Rodgers may have been keen to draw a line under the mauling Barca gave his Hoops last time out in European competition, but it rather acts as marker for Man City.
Catalan coach Guardiola has gathered real momentum to the Etihad outfit, so a Celtic side caught in no man’s land between domestic dominance and an inability to impress at the highest level looks more likely to be steamrollered than offer staunch resistance.
Outsiders because of Aguero
This is all reflected in the match betting with the Bhoys, who have won eight out of eight at Parkhead across all competitions, as long as 8/1 to upset Man City (firm 4/11 favourites to win).
Sergio Aguero is in terrifying form and is as short as an enhanced 3/1 chance to net two goals or more (max stake €/£20), having bagged a brace or better on four separate occasions this season already.
Now needing to deal with such a lethal frontman when the Hoops have kept just one clean sheet in nine leaves Rodgers and Aguero’s old Etihad teammate Kolo Toure with plenty to ponder.
Dembele delivering ahead of acid test
Improbable as a home win for Celtic is here, if they are to pull it off you can bet your bottom dollar that Moussa Dembele may have something to do with it.
Already endearing himself to Hoops fans by hitting a hat-trick in that Old Firm romp past Rangers, all 10 of French forward Dembele’s goals have come at Parkhead, leaving enhanced anytime scorer odds of 9/2 (max stake €/£20) very sweet indeed.
Man City’s defence is far from miserly themselves, though. Guardiola’s rearguard has kept just four clean sheets in 10, so even perfect winning records aren’t entirely flawless and Dembele can break.
Roberts playing for Etihad future?
If it’s a curious subplot you’re after, then take on-loan Man City winger Patrick Roberts into consideration. Since arriving at the Etihad, Guardiola has invested heavily in wide options with moves for Nolito and Leroy Sane, but could the teenage talent put himself in frame?
Play well against his parent club (there’s no known agreement to prevent Roberts from turning out in the Champions League) and a bright future could await at the Etihad.
Roberts, a longer 5/1 anytime punt, may buck the trend of other talented young English players who have found Man City something of a shipwreck for promising careers.
Just ask fellow Bhoys wideman Scott Sinclair, who saw his own potential suffer in Manchester as he was limited to just 13 Premier League appearances.
Given regular football at Celtic, however, under a manager in Rodgers that he’s played best for, and Sinclair’s return is six in 10 across all competitions. Like Dembele, he is a 7/2 anytime scorer chance here.
A player with a point to prove to City, Sinclair does offer a direct wide threat and may well limit the adventurous City full backs if nothing else.
Surprises in first-time fixture?
While Celtic have never played Man City before, they have met other English teams with pedigree in Europe. Liverpool (W2, D3, L1), and Man Utd (W1 D1 L2) are among those, with the former side beaten home and away by the Martin O’Neill 2003 vintage in the old UEFA Cup.
Rodgers needs to distil some of his fellow Northern Irishman’s spirit and quality just to be competitive here. Leigh Griffiths is many things, but he is not Henrik Larsson.
In Champions League football against Premier League opposition, the Bhoys have won just one in six, losing four (including both battles with Arsenal in the 2009/10 group stage) and drawing the other.
Not only do Celtic have that poor history over the last decade and the odds to overcome, but a City side in scintillating form. It all adds up to too much from a Champions League betting perspective that it’ll have to be a memorable night at Parkhead for a European shock to come off.
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