Astana vs Celtic:
Champions League Qualifiers.
Date: Wednesday, 27-July-2016,
Kick-Off: 15:00 UK
Venue: Astana Arena.
Scottish giants Celtic F.C can expect a tough test when they travel to Astana for the first leg tie of the UEFA Champions League qualification round.
FC Astana are the reigning champions of Kazakhstan Premier League and they have surprised everyone by qualifying for the Champions League group stages last season. The minnows hardly trouble any team in the main tournament and finished bottom of the group which included Atletico Madrid, Benfica, and Galatasaray. They are relatively new to the European scene and are only making their third appearance in a UEFA’s tournaments qualifying round.
After getting knocked out from the first qualifying round of the Europa league qualifiers in 2013/14, Astana qualified for the same tournament in the next season. They had took their progress a step further by qualifying for Champions League last season.
Celtic on the other hand failed to qualify for the Champions League last season after losing to Malmo in the play-offs. They subsequently entered the Europa League. A disappointing campaign followed and they finished bottom of the group behind Molde, Fenerbahce and Ajax.
Under the new manager Brendan Rodgers, Celtic will be hoping for a huge improvement. But they had mixed fortunes in the previous round after suffering a surprise 1-0 loss to Lincoln Red Imps in the first leg at Gibralter. However, they managed to get through the hurdle by earning a 3-0 win in the return leg.
Astana vs Celtic: Head-to-Head
This will be first ever meeting between the two sides in a competitive fixture.
Celtic had previously played against a Kazhak opposition in FC Shakhter Karagandy during the play-off stages of 2013/14 UEFA Champions League. And their only visit to Kazhakstan ended in a 2-0 defeat, but managed a 3-0 win to overturn the deficit in the return leg at Glasgow.
Astana vs Celtic: Prediction
FC Astana looks good in form based on their recent league results. They lost just 2 from 21 games in their domestic league so far this season and are undefeated at home in all competitions this season. They may struggle while playing away from home, but in front of their home fans they must be considered as an extremely dangerous side.
The Glasgow giants have better quality in their squad and are a more experienced team at this level. But they have been pretty poor in away games in UEFA competitions and remain with just one win from the last 12 trips. I believe Astana have a good chance to come out with at least a draw from this match.
1. Double Chance: Astana/Draw
2. Under 2.5 goals