Celtic begin Scottish Premiership defence with Ross County clash


Scottish Premiership champions Celtic will begin the defence of their crown against Ross County, and are not only massive favourites to topple their opposition but overwhelming odds-on 1/25 front runners with Coral to retain the title.

Ronny Deila guided the Bhoys to a dominant domestic campaign in his first season in charge at Parkhead, adding the Scottish League Cup to his title triumph as well, and they are 9/4 to overcome Ross County with both teams scoring.

The Hoops recently took a huge step towards returning to Europe’s elite club competition, having exited in the Champions League play-off round last term, after Dedryck Boyata’s late header earned a 1-0 first leg win over Qarabag.

Determined Bhoys boss Deila has set tough goals for his strengthened squad ahead of the new campaign, as he looks to enjoy even more success during his second season in the job, since taking over from Neil Lennon.

“The goals are the same as they were last year,” stated the former Stromsgodset boss. “We want to get into the Champions League; we want to win everything in Scotland.

“We want to improve the culture and the players individually and as a team so we can play exciting football.

“They are tough goals but you have to put tough goals on a fantastic club. That is what we are aiming for and we will see what we get.

“The most important thing is winning the league so we keep on being in Europe but of course, if we can get into the Champions League, that is a very important goal for us.”

Deila will have to put European targets aside this weekend, though, as he aims to make a strong start to the defence of their title, with their opposition 9/1 to cause an upset in Glasgow in the campaign opener.

New Hoops hitman Nadir Ciftci begins serving his ban for a biting incident for Dundee United last term, meaning Leigh Griffiths could lead the line, with the Scotland international 11/4 to open proceedings on home soil.

Former Manchester City defender Boyata has been in sublime form during pre-season since arriving, while also having netted his side’s vital Champions League winner over Qarabag, and he is 9/1 to bag his first league goal against Ross County.

Meanwhile, Brian Graham will be a danger for the visitors and is 7/2 to strike anytime, while Liam Boyce is 10/1 to net last. The Staggies haven’t toppled Celtic since March 2012 and failed to score in three meetings last season, with the Bhoys odds-on 7/10 to win to nil for a fourth successive clash.

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