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Celtic on the Road – Cluj Match Day Preview

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7 August 2019

 

Romanian champions CFR Cluj stand in the way of Celtic and a Champions League Play Off against Slavia Prague.

Cluj should offer a more competitive game than both Nomme Kalju and FK Sarajevo, from the previous two rounds.

Having made a good start to their season, Cluj are four games in and sit joint top, having beaten a more famous name from Romania, Dinamo Bucharest a couple of games ago. On Saturday they recorded a 4-1 away win to Chindia Târgovişte. To reach this stage Cluj had to knock out Astana 3-2 on aggregate and Maccabi Tel-Aviv 3-2 over both legs as well.

With a collection of players from Portugal, Croatia, Colombia and Argentina, none of whom are widely known, it seems a Frenchman may be their most dangerous player. 26-year-old forward player Billel Omrani scored a hat-trick in the 3-1 home win against Astana.

Celtic go into the game buoyed by the fact they have comfortably come through the qualification process so far and add in the seven goal demolition of St Johnstone on Saturday then Celtic should feel confident of getting a result.

Although the season is in its infancy its clear that Ryan Christie is going to be a big player for the hoops. At times last season he was showing the sort of form to be considered a first pick on the team sheet. He looks like he is going to continue that and build on it to be a mainstay of the team.

Christopher Jullien missed out on Saturday due to suspension, while Hatem Abd Elmahed suffered a leg knock, hopefully nothing too serious. With both starting on Wednesday it would bolster the defensive area of the field, with Elmahed showing he could be the answer to the right back problem.

It would seem Cluj perform better at home in the Champions  League than they do on their travels. They have won both home games so far, while going down 1-0 away to Astana and drawing 2-2 away to Maccabi Tel-Aviv. Celtic should expect Cluj to try and apply some early pressure, if we can come through the initial flurry from Cluj unscathed and settle down then I could see Celtic get a good result.

Celtic should be good enough over both legs to qualify and progress to the play off against Slavia Prague, who would be the toughest test this season so far.

Prediction 2-1 Celtic.

Mick Kane hails from Glasgow. He has been hooked on Celtic since he went to his first game when he was 7. Celtic beat Hamilton 8-3 at Celtic Park on the 3rd of January 1987. His favourite player at the time, Brian McClair scored four goals.

He started going regular as a 16 year old when Celtic played at Hampden for the season, being a Southsider it meant a short train journey to get to Hampden. From then he has had a season ticket travelled around Europe for games as Celtic became the dominant force in Scottish football again. A nice change from growing up during Rangers run to 9 in a row.

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