Betting round-up: Away game not so simple for Celtic

Celtic's unspectacular start to the season - coupled with their notoriously poor away form in Europe - have punters doubting whether to put their cash on the Hoops

Celtic's poor away record in Europe combined with their slow start in the Scottish Premier League on the weekend has punters nervous about backing the Scottish giants to progress to the final round of qualifying for this season's UEFA Champions League.

With just one win from their past 32 away ties in Europe, Celtic head to Finland to take on HJK Helsinki in the second leg of their third qualifying round tie with only a 2-1 lead from the first leg at Parkhead.

So even a 1-0 win for the home side would be enough for Celtic to make an embarrassing early exit from Europe this season.

And while online bookmakers Luxbet have Celtic as the $2.30 favourites to win the second leg, which will be played on Wednesday [Thursday morning Australian time, the Finnish club are well in contention at $2.85 with the draw at $3.15.

Luxbet's Andy Scott said the punters have been wary of Celtic in the lead-up to the biggest of the 12 Champions' League games across Europe on Wednesday after they had to rely on a goalkeeper error to score a late 1-0 win over battlers Aberdeen at home on the opening day of the SPL season last Saturday.

"After Celtic's slow start in the SPL on Saturday there has been a fair bit of backing for Helsinki although there is not much between the two in betting overall," he said.

And while Celtic's poor European record means they will struggle to keep the clean-sheet they desperately need against Helsinki to ensure they keep alive their chances of reaching the group stages of the world's most prestigious club competition September, they do have the firepower to score a crucial away goal which would probably be enough to see them through.

With that in mind, the draw in the second leg looks a great bet at Luxbet at $3.15, as does taking a stab at a 1-1 draw in correct score betting at Luxbet at $6.

Celtic and HJK to draw at $3.15 at Luxbet
Celtic and HJK to draw 1-1 at $6.00 at Luxbet

The other Scottish Premier League side in action in the Champions League on Wednesday, Motherwell, faces a tough task to progress.

The Fir Park outfit took the place of Rangers in this year's competition after the latter's expulsion from Europe following their financial collapse.

Motherwell head to Athens to take on Greece's best-performed club in European competition, Panathinaikos, with the hosts already 2-0 up from the first leg in Scotland.

And the Greek club are red-hot favourites to complete the job by winning the second leg at home at $1.21 at Luxbet, with the draw at $5.50 and Motherwell rank outsiders at $11.50.

The closest game of the night could well come in Belgium, where two of the more experienced sides at this stage of the competition in Club Brugge and Denmark's FC Copenhagen go head-to-head after the first leg finished 0-0 in Denmark.

Brugge make good appeal at home to win the second leg at $1.90 at Luxbet, with the draw at $3.30 and Copenhagen outsiders at $3.70.

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