Astana take on the visitors from Scotland Celtic in the first leg of the Champions League qualification round. The match will be played on Wednesday, July 27th.
Celtic show quite disappointing results in recent years since their life-long rivals Rangers got relegated to lowest professional league in Scotland. The team simply failed in eurocups last season. First, they got thrashed by Legia Warsaw (1-6 on aggregate). However, Celtic appealed to UEFA and got Polish side suspended. That was only the start of their humiliation as Celtic got eliminated second time, making way to humble Malme. Six matches of Europa League group stage with Ajax, Fenerbahce and Molde got them no wins. Celtics used to be strong at home, but last season they suffered bitter home defeats against Legia, 1-4, Malme, 0-2, and Molde, 1-3. This year Champions League qualification started with sensation away loss to semi-professional Lincoln Red Imps from Gibraltar, 0-1.
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Astana, in turn, show impressive results in home matches in last season Champions League. Kazakh side won home qualifying matches against Maribor, HJK and APOEL and drew three group-stage matches with Galatasaray, Benfica and Atletico Madrid. None of these notable teams couldn’t beat Astana and Celtic have even smaller chances. Astana have already knocked out Lithuanian champions Zalgiris.
Kazakhstan is quite distant place to play important matches in terms of long flight, time zone and climate. Kazakh teams played 27 home matches in past three years with 15 wins, nine draws and only three defeats recorded. This record includes not only Astana but other teams from Kazakh Premier League. Celtic have traveled to Kazakhstan in 2013, losing to Shakhtar Karaganda, 0-2. We should also remember it’s a two-leg matchup and defeat in away match won’t take all the chances from Celtic.
Prediction for the match: Astana to win.