SCOTSMAN Willie Duncan (@Willie_Duncan) assess the chances of Celtic at the Nou Camp on Tuesday night.
Barcelona v Celtic | Tuesday 19:45 | BT Sport Europe
Celtic were in celebratory mood at the weekend as Brendan Rodgers’ charges crushed rivals Rangers 5-1 in the first Old Firm derby in the Scottish Premiership since 2012.
Moussa Dembele hit a hat-trick – the first Celtic player to achieve the feat in that fixture for 43 years – as the Hoops extended their lead at the top of the table and the win was all the more impressive given that the Scottish champions were unable to call upon Leigh Griffiths – who hit 31 league goals last season – for Saturday’s showdown.
The Hoops, however, seem certain to be brought down to earth with a bump on Tuesday night when they travel to take on Catalan giants FC Barcelona at Camp Nou as the Champions League group stages get underway.
Barcelona are fallible; a point that was underlined when Luis Enrique’s men slipped to a dismal 2-1 defeat against newly promoted Alaves on home soil at the weekend – but given that Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Andres Iniesta were named as substitutes, it is safe to suggest that the home side will name a very different line up for Tuesday’s tussle.
Furthermore, Barcelona boast a hugely impressive home record in this competition, having failed to win just one of their last 16 Champions League ties at Camp Nou – a sequence of results that includes a 6-1 demolition of Celtic when the two teams met back in 2013.
Celtic have won just two of their last 14 Champions League ties on the road and, when that dreadful record is considered, it is perhaps unsurprising that the odds compilers offer a chunky 28.00 that the Hoops claim an astonishing victory against the Catalans on Tuesday night.
Rodgers’ side, though, have made a hugely positive start to the season, scoring 23 goals in their last six matches – winning five of those fixtures – and the Hoops will confident that they can get amongst the goals.
If Celtic were to score, Barcelona would need to score at least four to put punters into profit in the Asian Handicap Market.
It is worth noting that Enrique’s outfit have won just three of their last 18 Champions League ties by a margin greater than two goals and, with a crucial La Liga match against Leganes lying in wait on Saturday lunchtime, it would be a something of a surprise to see Barcelona put the pedal to the metal in this one.
It is a significant stretch to suggest that the Scottish champions are in a position to go toe-to-toe with the La Liga champions, but the Hoops can keep the result respectable in this Champions League opener and the 2.12 quote offered up by 188BET for Celtic (+2.5/3) in the Asian Handicap Market is great value.
Punters, therefore, are advised to back the Hoops (+2.5/3) on the handicap market at a juicy 2.12, for the price represents excellent value – especially when it is considered that punters will see half of their stake returned should Celtic slip to a three-goal defeat in Tuesday’s tussle at Camp Nou.
Barcelona v Celtic – Celtic +2.5/3 (2.12 188BET)