Barcelona - Celtic Betting Preview: Why a high-scoring first half looks likely

After a few difficult results for the Spanish champions, Phil Kitromilides believes that Barca will bounce back on Wednesday evening and that should mean early goals
Despite being top of the Primera Division table and having qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League with a game to spare, there is more than a suggestion of pressure building on Barcelona coach Tata Martino.

Back to back defeats to Ajax and Athletic Bilbao followed by a come-from-behind win against Cartagena in the Copa del Rey mean that, rather strangely, Martino needs his side to put in a strong performance on Wednesday. Paddy Power offer a home win at the Camp Nou tonight at 2/11 (1.18) while Celtic, who have nothing but pride for which to play, can be backed at 14/1 (15.00).

As well as needing a performance, Barca also need a point to ensure top spot in the group and we can expect a high-intensity start from the Catalans. To this end, backing first-half goals could well be the best way forward and over 1.5 goals in the opening 45 minutes is offered at 4/5 (1.80).

As always, trying to generate any value in a home game where Barca are massive favourites is tough, yet this seems to be a decent option.

This bet has paid out in seven of Barca's last 11 home games in the Champions League, including last season against Celtic, and, against a Bhoys team who are yet to keep a clean sheet in the tournament, there is every chance that the Spanish champions can net twice in the first half.

Over 1.5 goals first half at 4/5 (1.80) 1.5pt stake with Paddy Power

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Phil Kitromilides is a sports journalist and TV presenter in Madrid