Union Berlin v Celtic
Live on Premier Sports. Kick off: Friday 7:15pm
In previous years dismal pre-seasons have resulted in cracked Celtic crests adorning the pages of national newspapers as the Scottish press couldn’t wait to declare the club in crisis.
3 games and 3 defeats from their tour of Germany will surely have the club’s critics searching for that graphic file again. But boss Neil Lennon probably couldn’t care less. He’d be quick to point to Tony Mowbray’s promising pre-season where the Hoops won a competitively played Wembley Cup – and we all know how that season ended! Lennon is more interested in giving his boys a run out and working on their fitness, as proven by his team selections so far.
Fringe players, new signings and members of the youth squad have featured heavily in each game to date and this evening’s clash with Bundesliga 2 side 1. FC Union Berlin looks to be no different.
With the crucial Champions League qualifier against Cliftonville on the horizon Lennon’s use of his entire squad looks set to continue. No doubt he’ll be wrapping a few in cotton wool ahead of that match as highlighted over at TalkCeltic there are several players who look unlikely to be risked tonight due to knocks including; Adam Matthews, Efe Ambrose, Joe Ledley, Scott Brown, Charlie Mulgrew, Virgil van Dijk, Gary Hooper, Steven Mouyokolo and Tony Watt.
As for Union Berlin this will be their sixth pre-season friendly and their record so far is W5 D1 L0 – the most recent win coming against Celtic’s SPFL rivals Dundee Utd by four goals to one. Berlin were 4-0 inside 70 minutes before United pulled one back. They’re slightly ahead of Celtic in terms of their preparation as kick off in Bundesliga 2 is just 9 days away.
Bookies are making Celtic slight favourites with Sportingbet and StanJames offering best odds at 7/5. Berlin are widely available at 6/4 (Bet365, Ladbrokes, Sportingbet). Friendlies are notoriously difficult to call but nothing in Celtic’s form in the last 2 weeks would give me any confidence to back them tonight at that price and the value has to be with Berlin.
It’s interesting to note too that Berlin have been rattling in the goals in pre-season and netted 19 in five so far. To score two or more tonight they’re 11/10 at SkyBet. Despite Celtic being without striker Gary Hooper I think the Hoops can get on the scoresheet too. Over 2.5 goals in the game is 4/6 at Boylesports and BetVictor whilst over 3.5 goals is 2/1 at William Hill.
Keep stakes very small tonight if you’re having a play.