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Saturday, 17 November, 2018

Celtic's class should tell at Windsor Park

Battling Linfield may be able to avoid Champions League thrashing

Linfield goalkeeper and former Northern Irland international Roy Carroll
1 of 1

Champions League second qualifying round first leg
Premier Sports, 5pm Friday

Two teams who scooped domestic trebles last season meet in an eagerly-anticipated Champions League qualifier where Celtic are expected to thrash hosts Linfield.

Most of the pre-game talk has focused on off-field issues with Celtic making a controversial decision not to take up their ticket allocation, but the Bhoys are long odds-on to win the first leg and only 1-50 with Paddy Power to progress to the next round.

There is a clear gulf in class between the sides and Celtic should justify their status, although given it is so early in the season and how much this match means to Linfield, it may take a while for Brendan Rodgers' Invincibles to make the breakthrough.

The time of the first goal is over/under 20 minutes and with experienced goalkeeper Roy Carroll between the sticks for Linfield they may be able to get through the opening quarter unscathed.

Linfield played Ladbrokes Championship outfit Queen of the South in the Challenge Cup last season, drawing 0-0 in normal time before losing 2-0 after extra-time.

That match was one-way traffic with Carroll outstanding so the form should not be taken literally, but Celtic took their time before breaking down Ladbrokes League One side Alloa's resistance in last season's William Hill Scottish Cup.

The 3-0 win over Alloa was the only time Celtic encountered lower-league opposition on the road domestically last season and it took 30 minutes for Scott Sinclair to open the scoring.

Rodgers' men were also turned over 1-0 by Lincoln Red Imps in the Champions League qualifiers 12 months ago, although a 9-0 friendly success over Shamrock Rovers last week suggests one year on Celtic are in a much better place than they were for the shock on the Rock.

Recommendation
First goal after 20 minutes
1pt 10-11 Paddy Power

Bet on this game at Soccerbase.com

Rodgers' men were also turned over 1-0 by Lincoln Red Imps in the Champions League qualifiers 12 months ago
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