How the Bookies See it:
- Winner: Barcelona 3/10, Draw 5/1, Celtic 10/1 - Betfred
- First Goalscorer: Messi (BAR) 31/10, Suarez (BAR) 17/5, Dembele (CEL) - BetVictor
- Half Time/Full Time: Barcelona/Barcelona 20/23, Draw Barcelona 29/10, Draw/Draw 15/2 - Coral
Celtic sit bottom of Group C, with two points from their four Champions League games so far. They started the campaign off in the worst possible manner, going down to that hefty defeat at the hands of this week’s visitors. They then let the lead slip three times during their 3-3 draw with Manchester City and were beaten 2-0 at home by Borussia Monchengladbach However, a hard-fought 1-1 draw in the return fixture in Germany gave fans a glimmer of hope that the Bhoys are not dead and buried yet.
Domestically, they are unbeaten in their 12 Premiership games so far, currently standing ten points clear at the top of the table and having played one game fewer than nearest rivals Aberdeen.
Barcelona top Group C after winning their three opening games, scoring 13 and conceding just once in the process. However, former boss Pep Guardiola masterminded an extraordinary Manchester City comeback at the Etihad earlier this month, which saw the Blues respond to an early Lionel Messi goal and run out 3-1 winners. The result won’t halt the Spanish champions’ progress in the competition, but it proved they are not unbeatable.
Luis Enrique’s team currently sit in second place in La Liga, four points adrift of rivals Real Madrid. A run of four wins was halted at the weekend when Malaga held Barca to a 0-0 draw at the Nou Camp.
Celtic will be fired up to avenge their humiliating 7-0 reverse on Spanish soil and a creditable draw at Borussia Monchengladbach shows they can grind out results when they want to. However, it is difficult to back anything other than a Barcelona win, thanks to the sheer class at Enrique’s disposal, but the margin will surely be much closer this time around.
The Spaniards were frustrated by a defensive display from Malaga on Saturday and couldn’t force their way through to break the deadlock. Rodgers may take heart from this and look to stifle Messi, who is set to return to action after a sickness bug, Suarez and co early on, hoping to grab the shock winner they need to keep their Champions League hopes alive in the second half.
In reality, the Scottish champions might be able to achieve phase one, but could be punished by the visitors’ superior firepower if they decide to open up and go on the hunt for a goal. Coral’s 29/10 on the game to be drawn at half time, but for Barcelona to succeed after 90 minutes seems like a tempting price.
- Sports.net’s Top Tip - Draw/ Barcelona in the Half Time/Full Time market at 29/10 with Coral.