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Prediction: Celtic vs PSG

Verdict: BTTS and PSG to win

Best Odds: 17/10

Bookmakers: William Hill

Celtic will play host to PSG, perhaps the most talked about team in football this summer, at Celtic Park on Tuesday night as they look to cause a huge upset and traverse a tricky Group B.

Celtic

Celtic haven’t lost a game in Scotland (and no, that’s not just at Celtic Park, that’s anywhere in Scotland) since May 2016, and they won the Scottish Premier League by 30 points last season. Their level of domestic dominance is frankly astounding, and they translated this success into a place in the Champions League group stage with wins over Linfield, Rosenborg and Astana in qualification, scoring 15 goals over the six games. Unfortunately for Brendan Rodgers his side’s dominance doesn’t often continue on the continent, as was demonstrated last season as the Celts crashed out of an admittedly tough group without winning a game, as well as losing 7-0 at the Camp Nou. Being in such a tough group establishes Celtic as underdogs, a title they are not often labelled with, but one which allows them to express themselves and exhibit the very best of what Scottish football has to offer. The Scottish champions are no joke, especially at home, and they do have a tendency to pull a huge result out of the hat. Memories of the unforgettable 2-1 home win over Barcelona in November 2012 still flood back to Celtic fans when they hear the Champions League anthem, and even during last season’s forgettable European campaign they managed a scintillating 3-3 draw with Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. On their day Celtic can upset any team in world football, but they have not won any of their nine opening Champions League group stage games, so perhaps this won’t be their day. One important thing to note however is that PSG haven’t kept a clean sheet in ten of their last 11 UCL away games, and Celtic are prolific goal scorers at home. Don’t be surprised to see Scott Sinclair get on the scoresheet as he scored five times in Celtic’s qualification games.

Team News

Brendan Rodgers receives a boost with the news that Leigh Griffiths is set to return to lead the line on Tuesday night having recovered from a knock. Less promising is the news regarding Moussa Dembele who won’t feature, even from the substitutes bench, as he has not fully recovered from a hamstring injury. Defenders Erik Sviatchenko and Dedryck Boyata both remain out with knee injuries.

PSG

The embarrassing circumstances surrounding Unai Emery’s side’s round of 16 exit last season, coupled with the eye-watering amount of money they have spent this summer, means that PSG go into this season’s Champions League campaign with only the highest of expectations. Neymar almost single-handedly dismantled the Parisians’ dreams of European glory last season as Barcelona completed one of the most impressive comebacks in Champions League history, but now the £200m Brazilian plays at the Parc de Princes, as does the most wanted man in football Kylian Mbappe, and PSG boast arguably the most frightening strike force in Europe. Even more frighteningly, it seems as though Neymar, Cavani and Mbappe are gelling as a trio already as all three got on the scoresheet in PSG’s 5-1 win over Metz on Friday, and Neymar has already registered four goals and four assists in his first four games for the club. With Bayern Munich also in Group B, Emery will want to register a comfortable win here to give his side the best chance at securing the top spot in the group, and a more favourable draw.

Team News

Emery’s potential selection headache is eased somewhat by the news that Angel Di Maria is out with a thigh injury, and his Argentinian international teammate Javier Pastore also won’t feature. Marco Verratti is available for selection in European football, though is serving a domestic ban. The attacking trio of Neymar, Cavani and Mbappe all look set to start.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Celtic have never won their opening Champions League group stage game and failed to win a single group stage game last season.
  • PSG have scored 19 goals and won all five of their Ligue 1 games this season, and Neymar has four goals in four games.
  • Celtic have scored 12 goals and are unbeaten in all five of their Scottish Premier League games this season.
  • PSG conceded four goals in three group stage games away from home last season.
  • Celtic scored three goals in three group stage games at Celtic Park last season.
  • Celtic scored 15 goals in the qualifying stages this season, with Scott Sinclair finding the back of the net five times.

Conclusion

Celtic never start strong in the group stage and they face a tough test to start this campaign. PSG are amongst the favourites to win the tournament and their electrifying front three could run riot at Celtic Park. However, the Parisians are by no means invulnerable defensively and the Scottish champions have the tools at their disposal to cause the French giants some problems, as well as having absolutely nothing to lose in this game. This should be a high-scoring affair.

Verdict: BTTS and PSG to win

Best Odds: 17/10

Bookmakers: William Hill

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