It is a busy midweek for European action with 20 teams battling it out for the final places in the Champions League group stage. Celtic and Arsenal are among those teams involved, both facing difficult tasks if they want to join the elite of European club football.
Celtic are in action on Tuesday afternoon against Kazazhstan side Shakhter Karagandy. It is very much a journey into the unknown. But on their way to this stage, Karagandy have already knocked out BATE Borisov who have good recent European pedigree, so they are not to be underestimated.
Celtic cannot be underestimated either. They enjoyed a fantastic Champions League journey last season, beating Barcelona and reaching the last 16 of the competition, so they will be hoping to progress and give themselves a chance of repeating that success again this season.
The Hoops are favourites with the bookmakers to win the first leg in Kazakhstan at 23/20 (Coral, Ladbrokes). Given their poor away record in Europe and the Kazakhs having already disposed of BATE, I’d say a draw might be a safer betting option at 12/5 (BetVictor, William Hill).
Arsenal face stiff opposition in the form of Turkish side Fenerbahce on Wednesday evening. The Gunners are coming into the game off the back of a very disappointing Premier League opening day defeat at home to Aston Villa on Saturday.
They have injury worries as well, with the likelihood of having just one fit recognised central defender for this vital game. Fenerbahce have good European pedigree and will fancy their chances of progressing in this tie.
The pressure on the Gunners is immense. Their lack of activity in the transfer market has concerned a lot of Arsenal supporters, and so they need Champions League football more than ever if they are yet to attract some star names to join them before the transfer window slams shut.
There are some other tasty looking ties, with Lyon v Real Sociedad and PSV Eindhoven v AC Milan two of the stand-out games.
Both of these clashes look very evenly matched so I would go for a pair of draws, both priced at 11/5 (Coral).