Brendan Rodgers

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

Celtic vs AEK Athens prediction: Celtic 2-0 AEK Athens

For the very first time, Celtic will take on AEK Athens in a competitive game.

This may only be the third qualifying round but a raucous sell-out crowd is expect at Celtic Park for what is a huge game.

Both sides are dreaming of the group stages but who will have the advantage before the second leg in Greece?

Celtic’s 3 goals V Rosenborg in the last round.

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)

Celtic vs AEK Athens: Who will win?

Celtic have an excellent home record in qualifiers and are 3/4 to win.

The last team to win a qualifier at Paradise were Maribor 4 years ago and AEK Athens are 15/4 to do just that.

A draw which would set up a tantalising second leg is 23/10.

Celtic are 4/7 to progress through the whole tie and AEK Athens are 5/4 to reach the play off round.

AEK have faced 4 different Scottish opponents before (Hibs, Hearts, Dundee United and Rangers) and have progressed on each occasion. Is that a good omen?

Celtic vs AEK Athens: Match Preview

Celtic have already knocked out Alashkert of Armenia and Norwegian champions Rosenborg to get to this round.

They also kicked off their league season by beating newly promoted Livingston on Saturday.

Celtic have won all 8 Champions League qualifiers under Brendan Rodgers. But still need to progress through another 2 to make the group stages for a third year in a row.

In those 8 qualifiers, they’ve won the home leg on 7 occasions and will probably need another Celtic Park victory if they have any chance of making it to the play off round.

They’ve only ever met Greek opposition once before. That was Olympiacos in the European Cup first round way back in 1972 and they were knocked out 3-1 on aggregate. They’ll hope for a very different outcome this time.

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 AEK Athens secure an advantage?

This is AEK’s first game of the season as they begin in this round.

Last season they won the Greek Super League title for the first time since 1994.

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

They went through Group D unbeaten, drawing 5 times and winning once, including 0-0 draws home and away against 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 but can they take a step towards that at Paradise?


GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – OCTOBER 31: The Celtic team pictured before the UEFA Champions League group B match between Celtic FC and Bayern Muenchen at Celtic Park on October 31, 2017 in Glasgow, United Kingdom. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Celtic team news vs AEK Athens

There is plenty of good news for Celtic heading into this one.

Jozo Šimunović, who missed both legs against Rosenborg through suspension, is available having served his 2 match ban.

Also, Mikel Lustig and Dedryck Boyata are both in contention after their exploits with Sweden and Belgium at the World Cup. The former made a cameo appearance in Trondheim last Wednesday and is likely to start at right back.

However, the man all Celtic fans are desperate to see back is Moussa Dembélé. He went off with a hamstring strain 3 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.

Rodgers has decisions to make but the sort that he would prefer that as opposed to the lack of options he’s had in recent weeks.

AEK Athens team news vs Celtic

Marinos Ouzounidis has basically a fully fit squad to choose from.

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

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.

AEK Athens don’t score an awful lot of goals, but they don’t conced that often either. Expect a tense and tight two ties.

Predicted Celtic team vs AEK Athens

Predicted AEK Athens team vs Celtic

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.

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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