Celtic take their 2-0 first-leg lead to The Netherlands with hopes of seeing off Dutch side AZ Alkmaar to progress through to the Europa League group stages.
It’s been a very busy start to the season for Celtic, who have already had to play five Europa League qualification legs against three different clubs alongside their Scottish Premiership opening fixtures. So far, they’ve knocked out Midtjylland of Denmark and Jablonec of the Czech Republic, and are 2-0 up against AZ Alkmaar in their final qualification match heading into this second leg.
Celtic did lose their first game of the season against Hearts, but have now won six in a row in all competitions, including league wins over Dundee FC and St Mirren, rendering them fourth in the table but only a single point behind the top three teams.
After managing a third-place finish in the Eredivisie last season behind Ajax and PSV Eindhoven, AZ Alkmaar have only just entered the Europa League qualification stages in this final round, but find themselves 2-0 down after the first leg.
AZ Alkmaar also lost their opening Eredivisie fixture away to Waalwijk. Waalwijk won the game 1-0 courtesy of a goal from Kramer just before half time. Alkmaar managed 72% possession and 19 goal attempts but simply couldn’t break down the side that only survived relegation on goal difference last season.
Head to head, the first leg of this Europa League round was the only meeting in history between these two sides, and with Celtic leading 2-0, it’s looking like they’ll reign undefeated against their Dutch counterparts for now.
Odds For AZ Alkmaar v Celtic
AZ Alkmaar are just about favourites to win this second leg match against Celtic, however, unless they can score two or more without conceding, it’ll be Celtic progressing into the Europa League group stages.
It’s likely Celtic will sit behind the ball and play counter-attacking football, and as far as they’re concerned, they’ll be perfectly happy with a goalless draw. With Alkmaar needing three goals without conceding to win in 90 minutes, this game could be very open.
Here are the current odds for the match result after 90 minutes:
With the match setting up to be an open one, there could be a flurry of goals. If Celtic can score just one, that would mean AZ Alkmaar having to score four to win the match. Taking this all into account, the ‘match result and both teams to score’ market could certainly be worth a punt:
The current joint-favourites for this season’s Europa League competition are Leicester City of the English Premier League and Napoli of the Italian Serie A. The next English team in close contention are West Ham as fourth favourites – the only other English team in this competition with the top teams currently doing so well in the Champions League. Here are the odds for the current top five favourites:
AZ Alkmaar v Celtic Teams
AZ Alkmaar have had a busy transfer window this summer with a good mix of arrivals, departures, academy promotions and loan spells. As well as giving four of their U21 players professional contracts, they’ve had five players return from loan and signed four more for a combined total of around £6 million.
In terms of departures, Alkmaar have had a fair bit of money come into the club that they’re yet to spend – if they plan to at all. They sold centre-forward Myron Boadu to Monaco for £15.3 million, right-winger Calvin Stengs to OGC Nice for £13.5 million and goalkeeper Marco Bizot to Brest for £4.5 million. If they plan to catch up with the likes of Ajax and PSV, they will need to reinvest this money.
Celtic, like Alkmaar, have also welcomed a vast quantity of arrivals from other clubs as well as their own reserve side. While they’ve signed seven players for various transfer fees, they’ve all been for rather modest sums, with left-winger Kyogo Furuhashi from Vissel Kobe for £4.86 million being their most expensive signing so far this summer.
The Bhoys’ manager Ange Postecoglou may have a bit more money to spend having sold centre-back Kristoffer Ajer to Brentford for £14.13 million, and he might need to to compete with Rangers, although both sides have had similar starts to their respective campaigns.
Betting Tips For AZ Alkmaar v Celtic
Celtic may be the favourites to qualify after this second leg owing to their 2-0 advantage and Alkmaar failing to score an away goal, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve got this particular match in the bag.
Alkmaar need goals, which will undoubtedly leave the game wide open. This is usually the recipe for a thrilling goal-fest – but will Alkmaar get 3? Will Celtic run away with it after a few counter-attacking goals?
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Free Bets For AZ Alkmaar v Celtic
Free bets allow you to place all your regular wagers without risking any of your own real hard-earned cash. This makes any match multiple times more exciting especially when you’re not invested in any of the competing teams.
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