Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Prediction: Celtic vs CFR Cluj

Veselin Trajkovic in Free Soccer Predictions 12 Aug 2019

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Verdict: Total goals over 2.5

Best odds: 6/5

Bookmaker: 888sport

Scottish champions Celtic are set to take on Romanian title holders CFR Cluj at the Celtic Park on Tuesday evening, in what will be the second leg of the third round of this year’s qualifications for the Champions League. The first game, played lat week at the Dr Constantin Radulescu Stadium in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, ended in a draw as the teams managed to bag a goal apiece.

Cluj took the lead through Mario Rondon in the 28th minute, and James Forrest equalized just nine minutes later.

Celtic

Neil Lennon’s team have been completely merciless to their opponents when playing at home recently. They failed to win only one of the last 12 matches at Celtic Park, and they carried that kind of form into their first domestic away game of the season as they put five goals past Motherwell. Before that, they absolutely smashed St. Johnstone at home by 7-0.

Of course, securing a spot in UEFA’s elite club competition is of high priority to any club in Europe, and it’s no different for Celtic as they strive to hold back the challenge of their resurgent arch-rivals Rangers.

Team News

Lennon made several changes against Motherwell on Saturday but he is expected to pull out all the stops for this one. Kieran Tierney, of course, isn’t an option anymore as he joined Arsenal last week. Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo should come in to replace him at left-back, though his performances so far haven’t been exactly convincing so far. Christopher Jullien could start in the heart of defence.

Midfielder Ryan Christie was rested at the weekend and should come into the team, which would see Olivier Ntcham dropped and Callum McGregor pulled back to a deeper role. Out wide, Mikey Johnston unlikely to be fit in time, so Lewis Morgan will likely be given another chance. Tom Rogic, Eboue Kouassi and Daniel Arzani are all out.

CFR Cluj

Like Celtic, Cluj are also top of the table in their domestic championship, though their season is a little more advanced with five league games already behind them. They have racked up 13 points out of the possible 15 so far, and they eliminated Astana and Maccabi Tel-Aviv in the first two rounds of these qualifications, earning the right to take on Celtic in the third.

Team News

Head coach Dan Petrescu, former Chelsea defender and Romania international, went all the way in terms of rotation at the weekend, making 11 changes to keep his side as fresh as possible for the trip to Scotland, and like Lennon, he is sure to name his strongest line-up at Celtic Park.

Midifelder Emanuel Culio, who missed the first leg through injury, is now racing against time to be able to make the starting lineup and help his team in their attempt to break past the home side.

Conclusion

However, it’s hard to see the Romanian side progressing further. Celtic are sure to charge forward from the start, borne on the wings of support from the standsm and having a bit more feel of the opposition after the first leg. It is not unlikely that they score early, even though they are in a favorable position having scored an away goal. Given their record at home, it seems they won’t miss the opportunity presented by Cluj’s need to attack to take advantage of the space the visitors may leave behind and score several goals.

Verdict: Total goals over 2.5

Best odds: 6/5

Bookmaker: 888sport

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Veselin Trajkovic


Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on four different football blogs.

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