The Champions League second round qualifiers continue on Wednesday, with Celtic of Scotland and Ferencvaros of Hungary set to do battle for the first time in their history for a place in the third round, and avoid dropping into the Europa League qualifiers.
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All qualifiers will take place as a one-off match behind closed doors rather than the usual two-legged format due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Celtic have been drawn as the home team, with the match being played at 19:45 GMT at their home ground: Celtic Park in Glasgow.
The two sides face each other in the ‘Champions Path’ by virtue of winning their domestic leagues.
Celtic matched arch-rivals Rangers’ astonishing record of nine consecutive titles after the Scottish season was curtailed due to the pandemic, while Ferencvaros sealed their second successive title after Hungary chose to resume.
Predictions & Tips
As expected, Celtic are the favourites to progress, being priced as 1/3 to win in 90 minutes. The draw is 17/4, with a Ferencvaros upset a massive 10/1.
The Scots are looking to make the group stage for the first time since the 2017-18 campaign, having lost to AEK Athens and CFR Cluj in the last two seasons’ qualifying rounds. Ferencvaros have never made it that far.
The Budapest-based side are managed by former Ukraine and Tottenham striker Sergiy Rebrov, who has been in charge for two years now.
Rebrov has led his side to eight wins in 12 matches since the resumption, although could only manage a 1-1 draw at MTK Budapest in their opening game of the new campaign last weekend.
Their front three of Franck Boli, Tokmac Chol Nguen, and Oleksander Zubkov all registered double figures in all competitions last season, so will need paying close attention by Celtic’s defence.
Rebrov certainly has plenty of incentive to guide his side to the Champions League proper for the first time, with strong reports that he will receive a £2.5m bonus should he do so.
“When I came to Ferencvaros, both myself and the club agreed on the terms,” Rebrov confirmed.
“The contract we made is right for me. I am happy with the salary, but it is clear if we are successful on the European stage, I will do well.”
Neil Lennon’s side should surely have too much for the visitors, though. They have started the season in decent form, winning two and drawing one in their first three league games of the new campaign. They also thrashed KR Reykjavik 6-0 in the previous qualifying round.
Last season’s top goalscorer Odsonne Edouard continues to be linked with a big-money move south of the border, but should he start here I’d certainly fancy him to find of the back of the net against a side of this calibre.
He’s evens to do so with Betfair, which looks a great price. He’s also 4/1 to score a brace and 22/1 to score a hat-trick, which he managed in the opening weekend of the Scottish season against Hamilton.
Another man I have my beady eye on is the 32-year-old referee making his European debut: Allard Lindhout of the Netherlands.
He had an astonishingly low card rate at just 1.88 yellow-cards-per-game last season, and averages 2.48 across 92 Dutch games overall.
He hasn’t shown more than four cards in any of his last 20 matches, yet Betfair are offering 7/5 on Under 50 Booking Points.
Granted, you’d always expect a few to be shown in any European knock-out tie, but this seems too good not to gobble up given the referee and potential disparity in quality between the sides.
I’ll also have a small play at Celtic -1 Handicap, Edouard to score, and Under 50 Booking Points on Betfair’s Same Game Multi option at 5/1.