Sunday, October 13, 2019

Prediction: CFR Cluj vs Celtic

Juan Pablo Aravena in Free Soccer Predictions 6 Aug 2019

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Verdict: Over 2.5 goals scored – yes

Best Odds: 31/20

Bookmaker: 888sport

The UEFA Champions League Qualifers continue this week and teams keep inching closer towards securing a spot in the Group Stage. This Wednesday, Celtic (Scotland) and Cluj (Romania) will try to kick-off their tie with a solid performance although the match will be on Romanian soil, so there is a chance Cluj can have an edge in this first encounter between both clubs. Kick-off is scheduled at 19:00 hrs BST.

CFR Cluj

The Romanian Liga I champions began their season roughly one month ago, so they enter this match with a decent amount of competitive matches under their belts. They enter this match riding a seven-game undefeated streak across all competitions, but they have struggled to look convincing when it comes to the Champions League matches thus far. They defeated FK Astana in their first tie by a 3-2 aggregate score, although they lost 1-0 on the road and only secured their berth thanks to a 3-1 win at home. Things were slightly easier in the next round against Maccabi Tel Aviv, though. Cluj kicked things off at home and won 1-0, and later secured a 2-2 on the road to establish another 3-2 win on the aggregate score. Celtic will arguably represent their toughest opponent to date in Europe this season. Will they be up to the challenge?

Team News

Cluj won’t have midfielder Emmanuel Culio, who is yet to play a single minute this season. George Tucudean has been listed as doubtful, but he is expected to play according to recent reports.

Celtic

Meanwhile, the Scottish Premier League title holders have had an easier path towards this round of the UEFA Champions League Qualifiers and, at least on paper, have looked far better than Cluj even if they have faced weaker opponents. The Scots began their European play against FK Sarajevo and won the tie by a comfortable 5-2 on the aggregate score, thanks to a 3-1 win on the road and a 2-1 win at home. They faced Estonia’s Nomme Kalju afterwards and things were even easier since Celtic cruised towards a comfortable 7-0 triumph. Celtic began the tie against the Estonians at home and won 5-0, and later secured a 2-0 win away from home on the second leg. Cluj represents a far tougher opponent, but Celtic should be confident ahead of this match. Especially after they kicked off their Scottish Premier League campaign with a 7-0 win over St. Johnstone this past weekend.

Team News

Celtic won’t have star left-back Kieran Tierney since he is waiting to complete a deadline-day move to Arsenal. Tom Rogic, Jack Hendry, Daniel Arzani and Eboue Kouassi are also ruled out.

Plus, Hatem Elhamed is doubtful and will be a game-time decision.

Key Factors to Consider

  • This will be the first competitive match between these two sides.
  • Cluj are riding a three-game winning streak at home and have not lost in their last four (W3, D1). Three of those games ended with under 2.5 goals scored, however.
  • On the other hand, Celtic have also won their last three competitive matches away from home. Two of those games have featured at least three goals.
  • Cluj are undefeated in their last seven matches in all competitions. They register a W5, D2 mark over that span.
  • Celtic are on an 11-game undefeated streak including friendlies. They have gone W9, D2 over that span and eight of those matches have had over 2.5 goals scored.

Conclusion

Celtic have scored at least two goals in each of their first five competitive matches this season. Meanwhile, Cluj have scored at least once in each of their last four home games this season in all competitions. Given the approach used by both sides so far in the tournament, I would expect an open game and there could easily be at least three goals scored.

Verdict: Over 2.5 goals scored – yes

Best Odds: 31/20

Bookmaker: 888sport

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Juan Pablo Aravena


A freelance writer and sports analyst with almost five years of experience in the industry before joining SoccerNews, Juan Pablo Aravena is based in Chile and currently contributes to several publications and websites including SoccerNews, 12up, and Sports From The Basement, while also working as a fantasy beat writer for RotoWire, as a database editor for EA Sports, and as a football analyst for SmartOdds and InsideFutbol. His areas of focus are Serie A, Bundesliga, Premier League, LaLiga, and Ligue 1, but he has also written about MLS and South American football in the past.

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