Betting round-up: Celtic on verge of group stages

Celtic are among several big clubs on the verge of qualification to the main draw of the Champions League, with betting editor Paul Gough taking you through all the value Indonesia   By PAUL GOUGH

Scottish Premier League giants Celtic look set to reach the group stage of the world's best club competition - the European Champions League - for the first time in four years when the fourth and last qualifying round concludes with five matches on Wednesday.

Celtic, who knocked out Finnish side HJK Helsinki in the third qualifying round, go into their second-leg home tie in the fourth qualifying round against Swedish club Helsingborg holding a 2-0 lead from the first leg.

And the Glasgow club are hot favourites at online bookmakers Luxbet to go on and complete the job at Parkhead, with the match to be shown live in Australia on ESPN at 4.45am on Thursday.

Luxbet have Celtic at $1.49 to win the second leg with the draw - which would still be good enough for Neil Lennon's side to go through to the group stages at $3.70 - while the Swedish club is at $6.25 to win the second leg.

Although the chance to compete at the highest level in Europe is always important, this season it has taken on an added element for Celtic and their army of fans around the world as it will liven up what is expected to be a dull domestic season, following the demotion of arch-rivals Rangers to the fourth tier of Scottish football following their financial troubles.

As a result, Celtic are expected to stroll to the SPL title, although they have not had things all their own way so far, with Hibernian equal-top on seven points at present [although the Edinburgh club have played four matches compared to just three for the Hoops].

In Europe so far this season Celtic have performed superbly, winning away 2-0 against both HJK Helsinki and Helsingborg, having previously won just one of their past 32 matches away in Europe.

Another 2-0 win for Celtic in this game looks good value at $6 at Luxbet in correct-score betting while the hosts are $9.75 to win 3-0 and $11.50 to win 3-1.

Helsingborg are at $12.50 at Luxbet to win the second leg 1-0 and a massive $18 to win 2-1, while they are at $29 to win 2-0, which would result in the tie going to extra-time.

However, while Celtic should comfortably progress to the group stage on Wednesday, two of the other four ties are set for thrilling conclusions.

Lille [$1.39], Celtic [1.49] and Dynamo Kiev [$1.79] to win their second-leg ties at Luxbet
Fenerbahce to win 1-0 v Spartak Moscow in their second-leg tie at $7.50 at Luxbet

The pick of the ties is Romanian side CFR Cluj at home to Switzerland's biggest club Basel, with the former holding a 2-1 lead after a stunning away win in the first leg.

However, while Cluj are favourites to win the second leg at $2.45, Basel are good enough to turn the tie around and are $2.55 to win the second leg at Luxbet.

A draw - which would be enough for Cluj to go through - looks good value at $3.30.

The other tight tie is Turkish club Fenerbache against Russian outfit Spartak Moscow, with the latter travelling to Turkey in possession of a 2-1 lead from the first leg.

But that means that even a 1-0 home win for Fenerbache would be enough to send them through, and they are $2.25 favourites at Luxbet to win the second leg, while the draw is at $3.25 and Spartak Moscow at $2.90.

And Fenerbache look great value at $7.50 at Luxbet to win 1-0 in correct score-betting, which would be enough for them to progress on away goals.

Meanwhile, in the other two ties, Ukraine's Dynamo Kiev and French club Lille are hot favourites to progress against German club Borussia Monchengladbach and Danish club FC Copenhagen respectively after both winning their first-leg ties away from home.

Kiev are 3-1 up against Monchengladbach and $1.79 at Luxbet to win the second leg, with the German club at $4.10.

Lille - the 2010-11 French Ligue 1 champions and third last season - are already 1-0 up against Copenhagen and are the shortest-priced favourites of the night at $1.39 to win the second leg at home, with the Danish club unwanted in betting at $7.75.

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