AEK Athens vs Celtic betting tips: Champions League qualifying match preview and predictions

AEK Athens vs Celtic prediction: AEK Athens 2-1 Celtic

First leg score: Celtic 1-1 AEK Athens

This tie was always going to be a tough one to call.

When Callum McGregor gave Celtic the lead after 17 minutes everything was looking good for Celts fans.

However, some sloppy defending right on half time, allowed Viktor Klonaridis to equalise to silence the Paradise crowd.

The home fans were back on their feet again in the 58th minute when AEK’s Kostas Galanopoulos was sent off for a second bookable offence.

However, the hosts could not make the extra man count and the game petered out to a 1-1 draw.

An excellent result for the Greeks!

The Olympic Stadium in Athens is going to be sold out to its huge 69,618 capacity so can the Greek fans cheer their side on to the play off round?

AEK Athens vs Celtic: Who will win?

MUNICH, GERMANY – OCTOBER 18: Kieran Tierney of Celtic runs with the ball during the UEFA Champions League group B match between Bayern Muenchen and Celtic FC at Allianz Arena on October 18, 2017 in Munich, Germany. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

A win for AEK is 17/10.

Celtic need to win and they are 13/8 to pull off a big comeback.

A 0-0 draw, which would send AEK through, is 6/1.

There won’t be many goals and under 2.5 goals is priced at 8/15.

AEK Athens vs Celtic: Match preview

Last season was an historic one for AEK.

They won the Greek Super League title for the first time since 1994.

The defence of their title doesn’t start until 25th August.

In Europe, despite defeat to CSKA Moscow in this round, they beat Club Brugge and made the Europa League group stages.

They went through Group D unbeaten, drawing 5 of their matches and winning just one, including 0-0 draws home and away with Italian giants AC Milan.

That saw AEK Athens through to the round of 32, but they were knocked out by Dynamo Kiev on away goals.

AEK haven’t reached the Champions League group stages since 2006 so can they see off Celtic and get within one round of returning?

AEK Athens fans

ATHENS, GREECE – APRIL 30: Athens FC fans during the 2011 Greek Cup Final between Atromitos Athens and AEK Athens at the Olympic Stadium on April 30, 2011 in Athens, Greece. AEK Athens won the match 3-0. (Photo by Louisa Gouliamaki/EuroFootball/Getty Images)

Can Celtic progress past AEK Athens?

Celtic have already had to get past Alashkert of Armenia and Norwegian champions Rosenborg to get to this round.

They’ve also played two Scottish Premiership matches. They defeated Livingston at home but then lost 1-0 to Hearts at Tyncastle on Saturday. They’re coming into this game on a real downer.

Celtic have, so far, won all 8 Champions League qualifiers under Brendan Rodgers. But would still need to progress through another one after this to make the group stages for a third year in a row.

However, they’ve only won 3 times away from home and 2 of those wins were over minnows Linfield and Alashkert.

That doesn’t bode well as they essentially must win in Greece to make the play off round. Although a high scoring draw would be enough.

Can Celtic turn it around?

AEK Athens team news vs Celtic

Marinos Ouzounidis has a couple of injury concers.

One injury concern surrounds Ukrainian centre back Dmytro Chygrynskiy and it is touch and go whether he’ll be available.

Also, their captain Petros Mantalos, who missed the first leg, isn’t expected to be fit for this one either.

Kostas Galanopoulos is suspended after being sent off at Celtic Park.

Lucas Boyé was injured in the warm up last Wednesday but should be fit enough to start.

It doesn’t look good for Celtic as their real strength is defence. Staggeringly, they conceded only 28 goals in 50 games last season and will be a tough nut for Celtic to crack.

The real gem in their crown was Greek international Lazaros Christodoulopoulos. His 16 goals last season earned him a £1.8 million move to Olympiacos so Celtic will not have to worry about him.

One man they do have to be wary of is Marko Livaja. The Croat scored 10 goals last season including twice against Austria Vienna in the Europa League group stages.

Celtic team news vs AEK Athens

Brendan Rodgers

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers is seen during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match between Celtic and Motherwell at Celtic Park on December 2, 2017 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Kristoffer Ajer was booked in the first leg. That was his third of this European campaign which means he is suspended.

They were hoping that Dedryck Boyata would come in for him. He’s been on an extended break after helping Belgium finish third at the World Cup.

However, Boyata has not travelled with Celtic to Greece, with his future now up in the air. The Belgian defender is reportedly upset he was not allowed to leave the club this summer.

Jozo Šimunović will make his first appearance since being sent off against Alashkert a month ago.

The man all Celtic fans are desperate to see back is Moussa Dembélé. He went off with a hamstring strain 4 weeks ago in the home tie with Alashkert and may be available for selection. He is unlikely to be thrown straight into the starting XI though but could be amongst the subs.

Last Friday Celtic re-signed Honduran international left back Emilio Izaguirre on a free transfer after he left Saudi side Al Fayha. He won 10 major honours during his 7 years in the east end of Glasgow but is very unlikely to make his second debut for the club in Greece.

Predicted AEK Athens team vs Celtic

Predicted Celtic team vs AEK Athens

The winners will take on either Malmö from Sweden or Vidi of Hungary in the Champions League play off round. That tie is in the balance after the first leg finished 1-1 in Sweden.

As for the losers, they’ll drop into the Europa League play off round. There, they’ll take on the winners of Sūduva Marijampolė from Lithuania who are playing Latvian champions Spartaks Jūrmala. In the first leg the Lithuania champions won 1-0 away so are favourites to progress..

The latest tweets from AEK Athens pre Celtic

The latest tweets from Celtic pre AEK Athens

All odds mentioned in this article are correct at the time of publishing and are subject to change.

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Celtic to win vs AEK Athens and both teams to score: 6/1!