Europa League Group A: Celtic clash with Solskjaer’s Molde
Lee Gormley | October 21, 2015
Molde v Celtic
- Europa League
- Thursday, October 22nd
- Kick-off: 20:05 BST
- Aker Stadion, Norway
- Live on ESPN
Bhoys battle Group A leaders Molde
Ronny Deila will lead Celtic out in his homeland of Norway for the Scottish Premiership champions’ third Europa League Group A encounter against leaders Molde, with both sides having gone unbeaten so far in the competition.
The Bhoys have played out back-to-back 2-2 draws with both Ajax and Fenerbahce in their opening games, but the Glasgow giants will seek their maiden win of the competition at the Aker Stadion. Deila’s Hoops are 6/4 with Coral to seal victory, while a third successive stalemate is 12/5.
In the home dug-out will stand a familiar face to Premier League fans, especially that of Manchester United, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer taking charge of his first match since returning to the club that he guided to two consecutive league titles in 2011 and 2012.
Ole gunning for happy returns
The former Norway international spent three years as boss during his first stint as coach of Molde, eventually going on to endure a tough time at Cardiff City in the Premier League, but he is now 9/5 to oversee another European win on home turf.
“Of course I haven’t prepared really well for the Celtic game,” Solskjaer said on his return to the club. “I’ve seen Celtic play Malmo, actually both games, so I’m not blank. I’ll watch a few games and be ready.
“If you win this game and you’ve got seven points after three matches, you have a great chance of going through.
“I’m looking forward to seeing my lads playing again. Of course football is more enjoyable when you win games.”
Returning stars boost Bhoys
Celtic are boosted by the return of playmaker Stefan Johansen form injury, another who will feature in his native homeland, having recently helped his country reach the Euro 2016 play-offs for next month. The Norway international 10/3 to strike anytime on his return outing.
Emilio Izaguirre also makes a comeback from suspension, but James Forrest and Charlie Mulgrew miss out, while summer signing Jozo Simunovic is back in the squad but unlikely to start after a knock following his debut against Ajax.
The Croatian defender looked solid his maiden appearance for the Hoops in this European competition, and assistant coach John Collins believes the centre back is near a full recovery and should soon be a regular starter.
“Jozo has trained this week so we will see how he is but I don’t think he will be ready to start the game,” stated Collins.
“He is a big signing for us. I thought he did very well in his first game against Ajax. He has been unfortunate, he injured himself in training but we look forward to getting him back.”
Kamara keen on upsetting former colleagues
There’s an intriguing battle within the war in Norway, as Ola Kamara aims to win bragging rights over his former Stromsgodset coach Deila, where he played for four seasons and collected the Norwegian title alongside Parkhead midfielder Johansen.
Molde’s 26-year-old attacker claimed that his upcoming match-up with his previous colleagues will act as an extra incentive to help fire his current employers to victory at the Aker Stadion, where he is 5/1 to open proceedings.
“There will be extra motivation for the guys when Stefan comes,” Kamara declared. “We don’t want him to come home and do well.
“We know he is a great player so we need to try and take him out of the game. It will be the same for Nir Bitton.
“For the people of Norway this game is bigger than our first two matches with Ajax and Fenerbahce. In the media we always write about how Ronny and Stefan are doing in Scotland.
“Ronny is a top guy and it will be nice to see him and Stefan but I’m not thinking about that just now. I’m just thinking about scoring goals and beating them.”
Scottish sharpshooter Leigh Griffiths has already dispatched 10 goals this campaign, including a strike against Fenerbahce, and the Hoops hitman is 11/2 to net last this time out in Norway.
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Coral’s top tip: Stefan Johansen to score anytime @ 10/3