Astana vs Celtic FC – Tuesday 16:30 BT/17:30 CET at Astana Arena, Astana.
Given Celtic’s magnificent 5-0 victory at Celtic Park last week the second leg between Astana and Celtic will pretty much be pro forma for the Scottish side. Celtic head coach Brendan Rodgers will likely use this tie to rotate a large percentage of his squad—especially as the Glasgow based team will have to travel 4786km (2973.9 miles) to reach the Kazakh capital.
It is therefore likely that Celtic will take a somewhat weakened team to fly the 6 hours to the Central Asian country. That is not to say, however, that Astana will have a chance to get back into this tie. Brendan Rodgers side will still be robust enough to score at least once, and the Kazakh champion does not possess the talent to muster a comeback of Barcelonaesque proportions.
Astana are currently in the final stretch of their domestic season, which runs from March to November, and with European football secured will likely rotate the squad somewhat themselves. While there has been some disappointment about not reaching the group stage of the UEFA Champions League for the second time in the history of the club, there is still a sense of pride in Astana of reaching the group stage of a European competition for the third year in a row.
Astana vs Celtic FC – Player to look out for:
Junior Kabananga #30 – Astana
Junior Kabananga is Astana’s goal guarantee. The 28-year-old striker has scored 14 goals and five assists in 22 games this season for Astana. A tall and athletic striker Kabananga is a classic centre forward who likes to use his strength to break through defensive lines. Unfortunately for Astana Kabananga, despite having a decent performance, was left off the score sheet at the Celtic Park last week.
Scott Sinclair #11 – Celtic FC
Scott Sinclair was the player of the game in the first leg. The English born winger scored his fourth and fifth Champions League qualification goals in this campaign against Astana to pave the way for Celtic’s 5-0 success in the first leg. A fast and dynamic winger Sinclair was simply too much to handle for Astana’s sluggish defence and will be a handful for Astana should Brendan Rodgers elect to field him in the second leg.
Astana vs Celtic FC – Match Stats
- Celtic are yet to concede in this season’s competition, overcoming Linfield FC in the second qualifying round (2-0 away, 4-0 home) and Rosenborg BK in the third qualifying round (0-0 home, 1-0 away).
- Celtic’s record in six UEFA Champions League play-offs is W3 L3. The victories were against Hapoel Beer-Sheva FC (2016-17), Shakhtar Karagandy (2013-14) and Helsingborgs IF (2012-13); the defeats came against Malmö FF (2015-16), NK Maribor (2014-15) and Arsenal FC (2009-10).
- Celtic are looking to reach the UEFA Champions League group stage for a tenth time; 12 months ago they beat Hapoel 5-4 on aggregate at this stage (5-2 home, 0-2 away) but could only finish fourth in their section.
- Celtic have won just one of their last five European home matches (D2 L2).
- This is Astana’s third UEFA Champions League campaign. They went all the way from the second qualifying round to the group stage on their debut in 2015-16.
Futbolgrad’s Prediction: Astana vs Celtic FC 2-2
Astana vs Celtic FC – Possible Lineups
Eric – Shomko, Logvinenko, Postnikov, Shitov – Grahovac, Beysebekov – Muzhikov, Kleinheisler, Twumasi – Kabananga
Manager: Stanimir Stoilov
De Vries – Tierney, Bitton, Ajer, Ralston – Armstrong, Brown – Sinclair, Rogic, Hayes – Forrest
Manager: Brendan Rodgers
Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist and social media junior editor at Bundesliga.com. He is also a holder of a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.