Hoops hoping to bounce back from Red Bull Salzburg shock
Celtic will complete their successful Europa League Group D campaign with a trip to Dinamo Zagreb in midweek, with the Hoops having already secured a place in the last 32 of the competition, despite suffering a 3-1 loss to Red Bull Salzburg in their last outing.
The Scottish champions toppled the Croatian outfit in the reverse fixture back in October, with a narrow 1-0 victory, and are 14/5 to do so again. An early goal from Kris Commons proved to be the difference in Glasgow, and the former Derby County attacker is 6/1 to open the scoring again this time round.
SPL leaders are currently enjoying a very strong run of form, triumphing in 10 of their last 12 games in all competitions. Meanwhile, Dinamo, who cannot qualify, have won their last two on the bounce.
However, Ronny Deila’s men are destined to finish second in the group, with Salzburg opening a commanding five point gap at the top.
Zagreb’s campaign has not gone quite as smoothly as Celtic’s, the Croatian side are struggling with only one win and four defeats, which keeps them right at the bottom of the standings heading into the final round of fixtures.
Visitors Celtic have several key players unavailable, with Mikael Lustig out with a hamstring problem, while Jason Denayer and Charlie Mulgrew could also miss out. On-loan frontman John Guidetti is unable to feature as the Swedish striker was not registered in time for the group stage.
Captain Scott Brown is the key absentee, with the Scotland international having not travelled with Deila’s squad. The midfielder, who would pick up a suspension with another booking in the clash, is rested along with winger James Forrest.
Celtic’s assistant manager, John Collins, said he is relishing a meeting with an English side in the knock-out stages, with Liverpool, Everton and Tottenham all possible opponents.
“There’s quite a few English teams in it already, so it would maybe be nice to meet them further down the line,” he said.
“Obviously we would like an easy draw if there is such a thing at this stage. But, at the same time, it would be great for the club and the players to test ourselves against a big English team.”
To do the business for the Croatians, former Manchester United striker, Angelo Henriquez is offered at 5/4 to strike at any time. The 20-year-old Chilean has bagged seven goals in 11 appearances this season.
Also among Zagreb’s wealth of attacking options is the in-form El Arbi Soudani and young playmaker Marcelo Brozovic. Algerian winger Soudani has bagged nine goals this term, including a hat-trick in the earlier stages of the competition against Astra, while 22-year-old Croatian Brozovic has been linked with several top clubs such as Arsenal. Super Soudani is 5/4 to strike at any time against Celtic.