Celtic Park is the venue on Tuesday night as Celtic face off against CFR Cluj in round three of the Champions League qualifiers. This will actually be the third time these two meet in recent years, with the pair fighting it out in a club friendly six years ago as this week’s visitors won 2-1. This is a different proposition though, and both sides are looking to get a huge win to advance following last week’s stalemate.
Celtic have begun this season in the best possible way, with two domestic victories on the trot and a solid result away from home versus CFR Cluj last time out. First, they saw off St. Johnstone by seven goals to nil on the opening day of the Scottish Premiership, which was succeeded by another wide margin of victory against Motherwell, this time 2-5 in their favour. It was the trip to Cluj that mattered most though, and thanks to James Forrest’s 37th minute equalizer, Neil Lennon’s men are well in with a chance of making it through this stage of the Champions League. However, they’ll need to remain tight as their opponents are no pushovers.
The away side for this matchup have also been in impressive form and are currently on a run of nine games without defeat. Recently, they’ve defeated Chindia Targoviste by four goals to one in a comfortable outing at the Stadionul Ilie Oana, while a win over Hermannstadt has continued their brilliant form into this week’s meeting in Scotland. Mario Rondon was the scorer in the first leg versus the Scottish champions, and in spite of his goal being cancelled out ten minutes later, Cluj won’t be concerned by the task of beating Celtic at their home stadium.
Daniel Arzani, Jack Hendry, Kouassi Eboue and Tom Rogic are all doubts for this one, although most of them are back in training or close to making a return. Fans will be expecting more good displays from the likes of James Forrest, who’s amassed five goal involvements in his last five appearances for the club, and Leigh Griffiths who is aiming to make it three games on the bounce in which he’s netted. It was also a boost to keep Scott Sinclair this summer amid interest from English sides, and he could play some part here.
The visitors should have every member of the squad fit for this one, and that provides them with a slight edge over their opponents. Mario Rondon is undoubtedly going to be one of their most important players this season, and the attacker has scored twice in his last two appearances for the club so he’ll be brimming with confidence going into this clash. Paun-Alexandru is one other name who’s been amongst the goal-mouth action as of late, scoring two in three games over the last couple of weeks.
Celtic tend to dominate proceedings at Celtic Park and that’s likely going to happen again in this one, with the home side anxious to make their way back to the Champions League group stages once more. Forrest has been sensational in recent matches and due to his scoring record at the moment, we believe he can single handedly win this tie for his team. That’s why we’re going for Celtic to win and BTTS @ 4.00 as our opening tip for this matchup. Cluj pose a real threat in attacking areas, so there’s definitely a goal in them especially considering their front-men are in decent form right now. @ 2.10, you can get BTTS as our second tip. Finally, over 2.5 goals comes in @ 2.20, and with Celtic banging them in as of late it wouldn’t surprise anyone if they were to do so on Tuesday.