Celtic continue their journey towards the Champions League group stage on Wednesday when they host AEK Athens in the first leg of the third qualifying round.
The Scottish champions booked their place in the third round after first overcoming Armenian side Alashkert, then defeating Norwegian outfit Rosenborg, and they will be eager to establish a lead at home as they attempt to secure a berth in the play-off round.
AEK, on the other hand, are featuring on the continental stage for the first time this season having entered the competition at the third qualifying round stage.
Either MOL Vida or Malmo will be waiting in the play-off round for the team that manages to progress.
|Game||Celtic vs AEK Athens|
|Date||Wednesday, August 8|
|Time||7:45pm BST / 2:45pm ET|
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
In the United States (US) the game will be not be shown live on television, but it is available to stream live online via Celtic TV.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
In the United Kingdom (UK), the game is not being broadcast live on television but it can be streamed live online if you are a Celtic TV subscriber. It can also be followed live on radio via BBC Radio Scotland.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
Squads & Team News
|Goalkeepers||Gordon, Bain, Hazard, Mullen|
|Defenders||J. Hendry, Simunovic, Gamboa, Boyata, Lustig, Compper, Ajer, Church, Duffy, Deas, McInroy, Ralston, Walsh, Tierney, Bell|
|Midfielders||Brown, Sinclair, Morgan, Rogic, Allan, Ntcham, Robertson, McGregor, Forrest, Henderson, Kennedy, McLaughlin, McKay, Marku, Kouassi|
|Forwards||Griffiths, Dembele, Hayes, Christie, Edouard, Miller, R. Hendry, Hill, McGrath, Diver, Johnston, Savoury, Aitchison|
A hamstring problem means that Moussa Dembele is unlikely to play, while Dedryck Boyata is also expected to miss out. However, Olivier Ntcham is fit and available, while Jozo Simunovic returns from suspension.
Potential Celtic XI: Gordon; Tierney, Simunovic, Ajer, Lustig; Brown, Ntcham, Rogic, Sinclair, Forrest; Edouard.
|Position||AEK Athens squad|
|Goalkeepers||Barkas, Tsintotas, Giannikoglou|
|Defenders||Bakakis, Lopes, Oikonomou, Lambropoulos, Galo, Cosic, Hult|
|Midfielders||Simoes, Mantalos, Galanopoulos, Moran, Giousis, Alef|
|Forwards||Albanis, Giakoumakis, Livaja, Bakasetas, Klonaridis, Ponce, Boye|
AEK will be without the services of Petros Mantalos, who suffered an injury in the build-up, with either on-loan Torino winger Lucas Boye or new signing Christos Albanis expected to replace him in the starting XI.
Potential AEK Athens XI: Barkas; Bakakis, Lambropoulos, Oikonomou, Lopes; Simoes, Galanopoulos, Boye, Bakasetas, Klonaridis; Livaja.
Betting & Match Odds
Celtic are heavy favourites to win the first leg at home, with dabblebet offering odds of 6/10 on the Bhoys to triumph. AEK are considered a 9/2 bet to win and a draw is available at 13/5.
Click here to see all of dabblebet’s offers for the game, including goalscoring markets, correct score predictions and more.
Brendan Rodgers has steered Celtic through two legs of Champions League qualification unscathed thus far, picking up three wins and a draw, but the Hoops boss has acknowledged that his team face a sterner test against AEK Athens in the third qualifying round.
“It’s another step up,” Rodgers told reporters ahead of the first leg at Celtic Park. “They are champions of their country so that always makes them a tough opponent, because they have that winning mentality.
“They look like a Champions League team to me. We know we can give them problems, but we know it will be a real examination over two legs.”
However, while AEK may pose a greater threat than the likes of Alashkert or Rosenborg, Celtic are currently brimming with confidence. They come into the first leg with a five-game unbeaten streak under their belts and they kicked off their 2018-19 Scottish Premiership campaign with a victory over the weekend, defeating Livingston 3-1.
Having secured Champions League group stage football in the past two seasons, the Bhoys have become accustomed to competing at the highest level and Rodgers will naturally be keen to ensure that habit continues.
The game against AEK is only the half-way point in qualification, but they can take a major stride towards the group stage with a victory at home on Wednesday.