Celtic have been unstoppable since the turn of the year, and their home league form is nothing short of remarkable. They face a whole new beast on Thursday as Spanish giants Valencia visit Glasgow.
Celtic added considerable firepower in January with the acquisitions of Timothy Weah, Vakoun Issouf Bayo and most notably: Oliver Burke.
Since the turn of the year Celtic have been absolutely devastating, scoring freely and attacking with the incisiveness and speed that we saw from them over their two treble winning seasons. They were in electric form at the weekend as they smashed five past Saint Johnstone in The Scottish Cup, Burke in particular was superb, you would run out of superlatives for his performance. His pace, power and direct running was a huge threat all game and will be the same for this match, regardless of the step up in opponent.
What Burke also gives Celtic is an out ball, something they have lacked in European games. Look back at the defeat to Salzburg, Celtic were penned in for so long, unable to launch a counter and make the ball stick. They know now wherever they put the ball, Burke will bust a gut to get to it, and Valencia will be wary of that too.
Weah and Bayo have added some much needed depth to the squad, along with Edouard, and the current in form playmakers McGregor and Christie, Celtic have created an excellent attacking unit. Bayo is yet to feature in the first team, but Celtic fans will be eager to see him in action very soon.
With Edourard already scoring 14 goals this season, Forrest helping himself to 11 and Sinclair a further 10; Celtic have a pool of goals to call upon in this tough test. If you fancy Burke to make it four goals in his first five Celtic games he is priced at 8.0 first and 3.3 anytime.
Valencia are unbeaten in their last five, with their last three being draws, including spurning a 2-0 lead away at Barcelona. Los Murcielagos sit in eighth spot in La Liga, despite only having six wins to their name, only four other sides in the league have managed less. They also have just four losses, which is bettered by only Barcelona and Athletico Madrid. So Valencia’s main consistency has come in the way of draws, a staggering 13 of their matches have ended on level terms. This has caused frustration, as the club could be reaching the upper echelons of the table if they were able to push more games over the line from winning positions.
However, they have been better since the turn of the year, and have looked much better in recent games, they dominated for long periods against Barcelona. Although they struggle for wins, they have made themselves very tough to beat.
They have also struggled for goals this season, Dani Parejo leads their scoring charts from midfield, and overall the Spanish outfit have scored just 24 goals in their 23 La Liga matches this campaign. They do have some dangerous forwards though, Kevin Gameiro and Rodrigo have both been on the scoresheet recently and will need to be carefully marshalled. If you fancy them to add to their impressive tally of draws, that selection is available at 3.25. If you think the Spaniards will grab the win, that is available at 2.2.
The atmosphere at Celtic Park on a European night is a sight and sound to behold, and many of the worlds great players and managers have spoke of how intimidating it can be to play there. The Hoops will be hoping to harness every ounce of that atmosphere to take an advantage in to the away leg. Celtic have had some memorable wins under the floodlights in Glasgow, the fabled win over Barcelona, and excellent results against both Milan clubs. In this years European adventure, we saw a win against Rosenborg as will as a thrilling and ultimately decisive victory over one of Germany’s finest: Red Bull Leipzig.
The hosts are the outsiders for the game, priced at 3.3.
Celtic draw no bet @ 2.25
Kevin Gameiro to score anytime @ 2.88
Celtic to score 1 or more goals @ 1.36