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Celtic could suffer tragedy in Greece

Champions League qualifying
BT Sport 2, 7pm Tuesday

Celtic's hopes of making a third straight Champions League group-stage campaign are in the balance after a 1-1 draw against AEK Athens last week with the Greek champions well placed to put Brendan Rodgers’ men out of the competition.

The Bhoys took an early lead against the rusty Greeks in the first leg, bossed much of the opening period and played the best part of 40 minutes against ten men after Konstantinos Galanopoulos was sent off.

Yet it was honours even at the final whistle and the odds are definitely stacked against them now.

Celtic's fans and backers must be hoping a week of negatives can be turned into a positive.

On the pitch, the 1-1 draw with AEK was followed by a dismal 1-0 loss at Hearts on Saturday.

Defender Dedryck Boyata was missing at Tynecastle with the Belgian appearing to have gone on strike after failing to get a summer move away from Glasgow and with Kristoffer Ajer suspended and Jozo Simunovic and Jack Hendry liabilities too often, Celtic have reasons to be fearful.

The temperature at kick-off will be around the 30 degree mark and the Greeks, reborn of late after hitting hard times, hardly ever lose at home. Their last five home matches en route to May’s title success were wins to nil.

On-loan Braga man Alef should come into midfield while their skipper Petros Mantalos hopes to be fit as well.

They still haven’t started their league season but the match in Glasgow will have removed some rustiness and Marinos Ouzounidis’s men looked well organised and dangerous on the counter. Don’t expect much of a change from that approach having nicked the all-important away goal last week.

Celtic need to remember how they won 3-0 at Anderlecht 11 months ago, although Rodgers’ current side look a lot more flawed and their away record in Europe is very poor.

AEK Athens

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Young Boys v Man Utd

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Expert verdict
Manchester United are in a tricky Champions League group and it will look even tougher if they fail to beat Young Boys in Switzerland. Last term, United cruised through their group but were beaten on Swiss soil, losing 1-0 to Basel. They should fare better in Bern, but it may take time to adjust to the artificial pitch.