Celtic welcome Molde to Celtic Park in a must win Europa League Group 1 for the Glasgow side. Sitting bottom of Group A after the opening three matches, Celtic desperately require three points on Thursday as they seek to reach the last 32 of the Europa League for the second successive season.
Having suffered a 3-1 defeat to Molde in Norway two weeks ago, Celtic are still winless in Group 1 having recorded 2-2 draws against both Ajax and Fenerbahce. Ronny Deila’s team have responded to the defeat against Molde with three domestic victories, including a 3-1 victory over second placed Aberdeen in the Scottish Premier League at the weekend. Celtic are unbeaten in their last five home European matches and go into Thursday’s match knowing that a victory is required if they are to look to extend their European campaign into the new year. Celtic looked suspect in defence against Molde, as they have in a number of European matches this season and Molde will again look to hit them on the counter attack as they did successfully two weeks ago. Celtic have kept only one clean sheet in their last 19 Europa League matches, conceding 32 goals and they have conceded two or more goals in each of their last five European matches. In Leigh Griffiths, Celtic do however have a striker very much in form, with the Scotland international having scored four goals in his last three matches and 14 goals overall in all competitions so far this season. If Celtic are to win on Thursday then it may well be Griffiths who fires them to glory.
Molde have followed up their victory over Celtic with consecutive league wins as the Norwegian Tippeligaen draws to it’s conclusion. European qualification for next season is outwith Molde’s reach but they can however secure a place in the last 32 of this season’s Europa League if they win on Thursday and Ajax fail to beat Fenerbahce in the other Group 1 match. Molde coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looks set to recall veteran midfielder Daniel Berg Hestad for Thursday’s match, with the 40 year-old Hestad set to retire at the end of Molde’s Europa League campaign. A 4-1 victory over Viking at the weekend sees Molde go into Thursday’s match in good form and having ran out 3-1 winners a fortnight ago, they will be confident of again causing Celtic problems. Two wins and a draw see Molde sitting at the top of Group 1 with seven points and Solskjaer’s men may well settle for a point on Thursday as they look to extend their unbeaten record in the group.
Celtic are the odds on favourites for victory on Thursday at 1.62 (8/13), with Molde available at 6 (5/1) and the draw 4.2 (16/5) The football tip for the Celtic v Molde Europa League match is the draw at 4.2 (16/5).
By: Scott McGlynn