Having done so well in one of the toughest Champions League groups, Celtic have an excellent chance to finally reach the knockout stages, and one point from this game would be enough if Benfica lose at Camp Nou. Spartak Moscow will finish rock bottom regardless of the result at Parkhead, but the Russian will be keen to end the three-match losing run in Glasgow.
Historic chance for Celtic
Celtic did really well to make it to Champions League group stages by recording double wins over Nordic sides Helsinki and Helsingborg, but they were given almost no chances to go through after being placed in the same group as Barcelona, Benfica and Spartak Moscow. One of the main reasons for gloomy predictions was team’s awful record on European travels, but after a goalless draw with Benfica was followed by a 3-2 win in Moscow, the Bhoys started hoping they could turn their Champions League campaign into a huge success. The team continued with impressive performances, troubling Barcelona at their Camp Nou before beating the Catalans at Parkhead, meaning they are now in a great position to qualify. Celtic only need to better Benfica’s result in order to qualify, and with the Eagles traveling to Camp Nou, one point from the Spartak game could do the trick. Even so, the Bhoys are likely to attack their opponents from the off in search of another victory.
Neil Lennon rested a host of first team regulars at the weekend, while Emilio Izaguirre returned into action from a hamstring injury. James Forrest and Anthony Stokes remain sidelined, while Scott Brown is doubtful. Victor Wanyama misses out through suspension.
Valery Karpin is back
Club chiefs made a shocking decision to replace Valery Karpin with Unai Emery after the Russian coach led the team to the second place in Russian Premier League standings, and they have paid a heavy price for that mistake. Despite heavy summer spending, Spartak have struggled to live up to their potential under Emery, with the Spanish coach finally sacked after the 5-1 defeat to Dinamo Moscow. Valery Karpin returned to the helm to try and save this season, but 4-2 loss to Zenit proved that will be no easy task. While continuing to score goals for fun, Spartak are conceding way too many goals at the moment, 12 in last 3 games. Despite being out of contention for a place in the knockout rounds, the Russians will be keen to end the dismal run of results and finally improve the atmosphere in the squad, which is why they are unlikely to discard their attack-minded approach for the match in Glasgow.
Keeper Sergey Pesyakov is back in contention, but Jano Ananidze is out, while Aiden McGeady and Welliton are both injury doubts.
With Celtic desperate to finish the job and record a victory that would probably see them qualify for the next round and Spartak eager to end the disappointing run of results, there is every chance we will see a high-scoring game at Parkhead. Rather than backing Celtic on such low odds, you should bet on goals here.
Top pick: Both teams to score 1.80 (4/5) @ BetFred
Alternative pick 1: Over 2.5 goals 1.72 (13/18) @ Betfair
Alternative pick 2: Over 3.5 goals 2.75 (7/4) @ Coral