Two European clubs that are rich in history will square off this week as Celtic prepare to host Lazio in the UEFA Europa League.
Celtic are going strong in first place in their Europa League group, matching their strong showing in the Scottish Premiership. Their latest six game stretch began with a 3-1 triumph over Kilmarnock, before they put Partick Thistle to the sword in a 5-0 League Cup quarter-final display. They proceeded to draw against Hibernian which was viewed as a setback, but they did manage to gain a measure of revenge against Cluj in the Europa League. They lost to Livingston in the league after that, but bounced back in style with a 6-0 demolition of Ross County.
Goals, goals, goals tends to be the theme more often than not for Celtic, but this isn’t the Scottish Premiership and people need to remember that. The over 2.5 goal range for Celtic is achievable when they’re on top form but they always tend to be a little bit more conservative in European competition, and rightly so.
Lazio aren’t exactly what you’d call consistent but they’re definitely entertaining. They are currently in third place in Group E, nestled behind both Celtic and Cluj. Their most recent run began with a nice 2-0 win over Parma, but they were brought back down to earth with a disappointing 1-0 defeat at the hands of Inter Milan. A 4-0 triumph over Genoa soon followed, and they carried that momentum through to the Europa League as they destroyed Rennes 2-1. Then came two thrilling games against Bologna and Atalanta, which they drew 2-2 and 3-3 respectively.
Supporting the over 2.5 goals market with Lazio always seems like a smart idea but to be honest, it kind of depends on what team they end up facing. With Celtic, we think they’ll struggle to get things moving.
While Celtic aren’t exactly known for their prowess on the European stage, at least in recent years, we think the home crowd will lift them to a much needed point here. Lazio are always going to serve as tough opposition for just about anyone you can think of, but being tough opposition doesn’t always translate into three points. It’ll be tight and we can see both teams getting on the scoresheet, but neither will be able to take that next step and avoid it becoming a stalemate.
All forms of logic from their recent games dictates that it’ll be over 2.5 goals, but we just think they’re going to cancel each other out. It’ll still be a fun showdown to watch, but there won’t be a definitive winner, and there will be a lot of impressive defensive displays.
Verdict: Back the draw at odds of 5/2 and the under 2.5 goals scored at odds of 10/11. (All odds are taken from bet365).