AEK Athens did a tremendous job in the Greek Super League last season, as they won the title after a ling while. Of course they grabbed a ticket to the Champions League qualifiers, and have already done a good job. They held Celtic to a 1-1 draw in Scotland last week, and will now play host to their opponents on Thursday. Celtic have some really crucial absences and might not make it out of this match-up.
Date/Time: 8-14-2018, 14:00 EDT
Spread: Celtic +0.0
Total: 2 Goals
AEK Athens did a stunning job in the Greek Super League and won their first title in 15 years. Olympiacos Piraeus have dominated this competition since then, winning most of the titles in that span. However, this season was AEK Athens’ season, as they also reached the Greek Cup final but lost. They were really great at home (13-1-1), where they scored 32 goals and conceded just 5. Moreover, they have the best away record (8-1-6), scoring 18 goals in the process, while conceding 7. AEK Athens have only played three warm-up friendlies since the end of last season with very good results (2-0-1). In the first leg of the third qualifying round of the Champions League they were really good. Celtic took the lead at the 17th minute but AEK Athens pulled even at the end of the first half for the final 1-1.
Celtic have a much easier job in their own domestic league, winning yet another domestic title. They have been the total bosses of Scottish soccer over the years, especially in recent ones. Rangers were their arch-nemesis for a long while but they had been struggling in lower divisions lately. Celtic started their European trip early this season, and have already gone through two rounds of qualifiers. They easily overcame Alashkert in the first round (0-6 agg.) and Rosenborg in the second (1-3 agg.). Celtic did a great job to take the lead against AEK Athens in the first leg, but were tied at 1-1 at the end of the first half. Even though their opponents were left with 10 men, Celtic failed to capitalize.
AEK Athens were playing with one less player for more than half an hour in Scotland, but held on. Even a goal-less draw in the second leg would be enough to see them through to the next round, so they will be extra careful here.
Celtic know that they will need to score at least once in order to have qualifying chances. So they will come here with an offensive mindset, but AEK Athens are not new to this. They will try to safeguard their defense and score a goal that would give them a lot of wiggle room. But I don’t think that we will see a lot of goals here.
Champions League Qualifiers AEK Athens vs Celtic Prediction: Under 2 Goals (-100)
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