Celtic to do a professional job in Bosnia
Celtic kick-off the new campaign with a trip to Bosnia & Herzegovina to face FK Sarajevo. The Hoops have now always fared well in the opening rounds of the Champions League but will it be different this time? Have a read of our preview here:
Champions League huge for Celtic
We all know how important the Champions League is for the top-four clubs in England and it is the same for Celtic. They chase a coveted group stage spot but the qualifying rounds can throw up some pretty tricky fixtures.
A trip to Sarajevo may not sound that daunting and in terms of quality it probably isn’t with Celtic miles ahead, but the passionate home support will make it an intimidating place to play for Neil Lennon’s side and a fully focussed group of players will need to do a professional job.
The defeat to Malmo in 2015 and then the heartbreak against AEK Athens in last season’s third qualifying round will be bitter reminders about what can happen if you take anything for granted. Get past Sarajevo, and you have to believe Celtic will over two legs, and there are a couple more potentially difficult opponents to get past before the group stages can be reached.
The two Christophers
Going into this one, Neil Lennon has some tough decisions to make regarding the lineup. In particular in central defence where the untried partnership of new signing Christopher Julien and the Norwegian Kristoffer Ajer will be the most likely pair for the Hoops.
There is always an element of risk when putting a new partnership like this together for a big game but Ajer showed a lot of promise towards the end of last season where he was arguably the best defender in the squad while Julien comes from Toulouse for a hefty £7m so should be good enough to deal with a situation like this.
If it works it could put together a solid foundation to use as the main pairing throughout the season.
FK Sarajevo may be well behind the Scottish champions in terms of football class but they have home advantage to kick things off and that will be welcomed by them. The fans are hugely passionate and will have been delighted to secure the club’s first title since 2015 last season.
They are not a team of stars but in captain Krste Velkoski they have a player who can score. The strike bagged 11 in 31 appearances during last season’s title-winning campaign and the 31-year-old has plenty of experience to lead the line and cause the Hoops some problems.
FK Sarajevo v Celtic betting tip
Knowing what we do about these kind of games, it is rarely the case that the favourites just turn up and stroll through untroubled but Neil Lennon’s men have more than enough quality to win this one so backing there to be under 2.5 goals at odds of 4/5 is a good way to be going here.