Celtic vs AEK Athens
Celtic is doing very well so far in the season, as the team progressed over Armenian champions from Alashkert with 6:0 aggregate score in the first round, but also showed their quality in the second qualifying round when they won over Rosenborg.
They have won the first leg with a 3:1 result at home despite being a goal down and showed all of their quality later on into the match, sealing the victory thanks to two goals from Edouard (newly signed player from PSG) and a goal from Ntcham.
- Rosenborg simply couldn't respond to Celtic quality and it was obvious in the second leg as well.
Scottish side did what was needed, in quite an ugly game looked a bit more defensive than what they actually are. Norwegian side simply couldn't attack properly, neither had a clue how to approach Celtic's defense.
As for the domestic league, they are once again huge favorites to win the league and have started the Premiership with a 3:1 victory on Saturday afternoon over Livingston. Rogic and Edouard brought them into the double lead already after the first thirty minutes and it was much easier to play since then.
Ntchman increased to 3:0 from the penalty kick early in the second halftime, while they lowered down the tempo later on and conceded one, in the third minute of added time via Robinson.
Offensive Moussa Dembele is yet to return from a thigh injury and will miss the first leg here for sure. Midfielder Lewis Morgan and defender Dedryck Boyata are both set to miss as well due to knee problems.
Defender Jozo Simunovic returns from a two games suspension he had. Striker Leigh Griffiths is nearing full fitness, while right defender Mikael Lustig and offensive midfielder Tom Rogic are back in the team after their World Cup performances.
- AEK Athens have lost their last 4 matches in the UEFA Champions League.
AEK Athens became champions of Greece last season mostly thanks to the controversial ending of it when PAOK and Olympiacos were punished with points deduction that ruined the atmosphere inside the locker room of these two sides. AEK finished with six points more than second-placed PAOK and thirteen more than Olympiakos that dominated the league so much in previous years.
They were outplayed in the finals of Greek Cup in the middle of May when they suffered 2:0 defeat against PAOK. As for the friendlies, the side had goalless draws against AEK Larnaca and Atromitos, while they won over Galatasaray last Tuesday evening with a 3:2 result in their last rehearsal before this one. Maicon brought the Turkish side into the lead, while Livaja, Bakasetas, and Mantalos scored goals for AEK in between to another goal from Maicon.
- Greek Super League is yet to start, and this is one of the main problems for AEK.
Moreover, it's a problem for all Greek and Mediterranean sides that didn't impress much so far in the European qualifiers.
They didn't invest a lot in this transfer market, as their biggest signing is striker Marko Livaja from Las Palmas. Defensive midfielder Alef came on a loan deal from Baraga, same as central defender Mario Oikonomou (from Bologna) and forwards Lucas Boye from Torino and Ezequiel Ponce from Roma. On the other side, they sold important central defender Ognjan Vranjes to Anderlecht and lost central midfielder Jakob Johansson on a free transfer to Rennes.
Visiting side could miss their captain Petros Mantalos who missed most of the previous season as well. Central defender Dmytro Chygrynskiy isn't ready for the new season either.
Celtic is in competitive form having played already five official matches this season. Moreover, there's no doubt that the team has far better individuals for this clash, while AEK might suffer lack of competitive form. Even if they approach it well, there are certain quality gaps in their defense that can't be improved that easily. Celtic should prevail with a result that will give them a huge boost ahead of the second leg.
Celtic vs AEK Athens prediction
Celtic Wins @ 1.74 with Pinnacle