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Monday, 10 December, 2018

Celtic set to confirm Europa League spot

Anderlecht could finish pointless

Callum McGregor netted in Celtic defeat to Bayern Munich in midweek
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Champions League Group B
BT Sport ESPN, 7.45pm Tuesday

Having been predictably outclassed by Group B powerhouses Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich, Celtic and Anderlecht finally get to complete the double-header which will determine which of them is still going to be in Europe in 2018.

Given that Celtic rocked up in the ‘first leg’ in Brussels in September, winning 3-0, it’s almost impossible to see them not completing the job in front of a packed Parkhead.

And, despite the obvious reservations about ever wanting to back the Bhoys at a short price in European competition, the hosts look to be well worth a punt at 10-11.

Group B standings

Jovial Anderlecht boss Hein Vanhaezebrouck joked on his arrival in Glasgow that only a team as good as PSG could possibly overturn a three-goal deficit and that Anderlecht are no Paris. As though that needed saying.

Keen observers of Scottish football might dispute whether PSG are indeed the only team capable of putting three past Celtic given their recent troubles in the Champions League – even Legia Warsaw crushed the Hoops 4-1 three years ago – but it’s doubtful whether this Anderlecht side are up to the task.

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Not only have they been awful in Europe but they are also struggling in third place in the Belgian top division and their next two matches are against the two sides above them, Sporting Charleroi and Brugge.

That might explain why Nicolae Stanciu hasn’t been risked, and while Anderlecht clearly haven’t thrown in the towel their priorities are elsewhere.

Vanhaezebrouck, of course, wasn’t in charge when Celtic won 3-0 at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium earlier in the campaign. That was one of Rene Weiler’s last acts though Anderlecht haven’t improved greatly under new management having sustained five losses in 12 outings under Vanhaezebrouck.

You could argue that the 2-1 home defeat by Bayern Munich in matchday five was a major improvement following four hammerings to nil, but this is a side short of confidence with several players who know they’re going to be offloaded in January.

The goals haven’t flowed from Lukasz Teodorczyk – indeed they’ve failed to score in ten games this term – and they look a million miles from the club who gave Manchester United a pair of scares in the Europa League quarter-finals.

They have to score, of course, so have to do something different, and because of that requirement it’s long odds-on that both teams find the net.

Celtic go into the game after a 5-1 drubbing of Motherwell, but the three games in which they have failed to score this season have all been in this competition, against Rosenborg, PSG and Bayern. Over 2.5 goals is also short at just 4-6.

1pt 10-11 Betfair

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Team news
Patrick Roberts (hamstring) is out. Moussa Dembele has recovered from an ankle knock.

Midfielder Nicolae Stanciu and striker Alexandre Chipciu haven’t travelled. Andy Najar is a long-term casualty.

Key stat
Anderlecht have won one of their last 21 Champions League ties.

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Nicolae Stanciu hasn’t been risked, and while Anderlecht clearly haven’t thrown in the towel their priorities are elsewhere
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