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Champions League Qualifiers: History points towards a good night for Manchester United, but heartbreak for Celtic

We've crunched the Champions League numbers to see how the first leg results could impact who qualifies this week. Two late goals have differing consequences for Manchester United and Celtic, while we've got a 19/1 double to take us through the midweek games.

by Josh Powell | August 24, 2015

Marouane Fellaini cost Manchester United £27.5m to bring him to Old Trafford in a last-minute deadline day deal in 2013. Two years later, and the Belgian midfielder’s 93rd minute header against Club Brugge might well have paid that fee back. And then some.

Qualification for the Champions League is worth a significant amount of cash with BT Sport’s mega TV deal, gate receipts, prize money, half-and-half scarves and the rest. Depending on which paper you read, it’s estimated that the next 90 minutes for Manchester United and Celtic is worth between £45-£60m if either team can make the quarter-final stage.

And it’s Fellaini’s header in stoppage time at Old Trafford that puts Manchester United on course for Champions League qualification with a 3-1 lead going into the second leg. Unfortunately, the stats suggest a different outcome for Celtic, despite their 3-2 victory over Malmo at Celtic Park. Jo Inge Berget’s strike in the 95th minute for the away side has heaped the pressure on the Hoops.

So how do those two late goals alter each side’s chances of qualification?


The stats are good for Louis Van Gaal’s Red Army. There have been seven occasions since 2009 when a team has won the first leg at home by exactly two goals – in this case either 2-0 or 3-1. In six of those games the winner of the first leg have gone on to qualify – with Shakhter Karagandy the only exception in 2013/14. The Kazakhstan side won the first leg at home 2-0, but lost the return leg to Celtic in Glasgow 3-0 to exit the competition. Three sides have won the first leg at home 3-1 and all three qualified, although it took extra time for Werder Bremen in 2010/11 against Sampdoria.

Manchester United are 10/11 to win the second leg inside 90 minutes, although there might be slightly more value in backing the draw at 5/2. The Red Devils have hardly set the world alight in their opening Premier League matches – managing just 11 shots on target – and scoring just twice. Brugge have lost just one of their last 36 matches at home in all competitions and could make life difficult for United on the road. The 0-0 draw is 10/1, while 1-1 is a tempting price at 13/2.

  • Get stuck into the latest betting on Manchester United here: Desktop | Mobile
  • Man Utd and Brugge to draw with Malmo to beat Celtic to nil is our 19/1 double – get involved here: Desktop | Mobile


Unfortunately it’s not good news for Celtic. The Hoops conceded a 95th minute goal against Malmo to make it 3-2, but the trends suggest that last-minute strike from Jo Inge Berget has swung the tie in Malmo’s favour. In the last six years, seven sides have won the Champions League Qualifier first leg at home by a single goal while also conceding, and just two of them have qualified – with the away goal more precious than unicorn piss.

Six of those seven sides had picked up a 2-1 win at home, with four of them losing the away trip and failing to qualify. Only one side since 2009 has won the first leg 3-1 at home – that was the Young Boys in 2010 against Tottenham, and Spurs went on to win the second leg at White Hart Lane 4-0 to knock them out. The Hoops are going to have to buck the trends if they’re to be in Thursday’s pot for what will no doubt be a long and overly complicated Champions League draw.

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Malmo are just sneaking favouritism at 8/5 for the second leg in Sweden, with Celtic at 13/8 in the betting. A draw, available at 12/5, would be enough to see the Hoops through, although the best bet (unless you’re a Celtic fan) could be Malmo to win to nil at 4/1. Of the seven home teams in the first leg who have conceded but won by a single goal, four of them have gone on to lose the second leg and failed to score. Malmo have also kept four clean sheets in their last five home games in all competitions so their defence has the potential to be tougher than sitting through a Mrs Brown’s Boys marathon.

  • The latest odds on Malmo v Celtic are just a click away: Desktop | Mobile
  • Man Utd and Brugge to draw with Malmo to beat Celtic to nil is our 19/1 double – get involved here: Desktop | Mobile

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