Celtic should travel to Sweden fully confident of winning the tie.

They have shown they are capable of big performances away from home in recent years and should be confident taking a 1-0 to Sweden.

In the first leg Celtic hit the target a total of nine times, Elfsborg could only muster one shot. The Swedish champions committed over three times as much fouls as the home side, as they tried to break up Celtic’s attacking threats any way they could.

In truth the biggest threat Elfsborg posed at Celtic park was to the legs of Georgios Samaras.

Perhaps the fact that Celtic only saw a one goal return for their labour highlights their need to bring in an instinctive striker to replace Gary Hooper, as they lacked a clinical edge.

Tonight’s game will almost definitely see the return of Georgios Samaras after the Greek forward was rested against Ross County at the weekend. Samaras gives Celtic an extra dimension to their play, Elfsborg were caused all kinds of problems previously by his dribbling from deep and the wide areas.

The key to Celtics success could rest at the feet of the enigmatic forward.

Neil Lennon will set his side with a positive mentality as he knows the first goal in the tie is vital. If Celtic take a 2-0 aggregate lead with an away goal the Swedes are left with the daunting task of scoring three to progress.

Elfsborg will look to put more offensive pressure on the Celtic backline as they are trailing and have home advantage. If Celtic can withstand this pressure I believe they will have chances on the counter attack through Samaras, as mentioned previously.

Kris Commons has the capability to play the killer pass in attack, leading to clear cut chances. If Celtic can get him on the ball his range of passing could be another route to success for the hoops.

This approach is dependent on Celtic being the team in possession often, building attacks from midfield with a grip on the game. It remains to be seen whether Celtic can press in this way as they did at home to allow this. I would assume Elfsborg will come out their shell and try to be the side setting the pace, as they must score to go through.

Celtic can be vulnerable in defence at times especially through Efe Ambrose who can lose concentration and awareness at times, allowing opponents the goal scoring opportunities. Right Full back, and Swedish internationalist Mikael Lustig looks unconvincing in both defence and attack in my opinion. His lack of composure on the right side could be an area the Swedish champions will look to exploit as well.

In short Celtic are favourites to advance, and I believe they are rightfully confident of progression. However Elfsborg will have to be a different side to the one that were hemmed in at Parkhead and are capable of causing Celtic problems if the hoops are not at their best.


Joe Brady


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