Celtic have home advantage for Malmo match in Champions League play-offs


Celtic meet 2014 Swedish Allsvenskan winners Malmo with a spot in the Champions League group stage the prize for victory from this two-legged first-time encounter. Coral make Ronny Deila’s Bhoys, who have the luxury of playing at home first, odds-on 4/6 favourites to take a lead with them to Scandinavia and 8/15 to advance from the tie.

Malmo, who produced present day Sweden superstar Zlatan Ibrahimvoic, are 9/2 outsiders to upset their hosts and 6/4 to qualify, while a Parkhead draw is a 14/5 chance.

Leigh Griffiths has developed a good habit of scoring early during recent Scottish Premiership outings, so odds of 4/1 to grab another opening goal here look well worth investing in.

Deila and fellow Norwegian Stefan Johansen will surely want to show up opposition that neighbours their homeland here. Goals from the midfielder have already proved key for Celtic in making it through the qualifying rounds. Johansen is a tasty 2/1 anytime scorer chance.

Bhoys buy Scott Allan could make his debut after signing from Hibernian. Ribbed by Griffiths for his boyhood ties to Rangers, he can get onside with the Parkhead crowd by capping his bow with a goal at 9/4.

Among Malmo ranks are four players who are familiar to British football fans. Trying to stop Celtic scoring will be versatile defender Kari Arnason, and the Iceland international of Rotherham United, Plymouth Argyle and Aberdeen fame is 9/2 to help his team keep a clean sheet in Glasgow.

Further forward are a couple of ill-fated Cardiff City flops bought by Malky Mackay, but swiftly sold back to Scandinavian football. Midfielder Magnus Wolff Eikrem has netted nine for Malmo this calendar year, and is 7/2 to add to that tally anytime.

The Bhoys must beware another Norway international, though, in former loanee Jo Inge Berget. This support striker also has nine goals in 2015 and is the same 7/2 price to score upon his return.

Leading Malmo’s line is likely to be Markus Rosenberg, who flopped big time at West Bromwich Albion after failing to score in 33 appearances for the Baggies.

Punters should not be fooled by his goal drought at The Hawthorns, though, as his second stint with the club he captains has been a prolific one. With stats of 32 strikes in 68 outings for Malmo, Rosenberg has definitely rediscovered his scoring touch and is 2/1 to make that tell anytime.

These players, who all failed to perform at Premier League level, have clear question marks hanging over them when it comes to stepping up into big games, and that is a weakness Malmo will do well to hide in front of a partisan Parkhead support.

Coral’s top tip: Deila needs to deliver with home advantage, and Celtic look a safe bet to win with both teams scoring at 13/5.

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