Celtic v Leicester – Celtic Park at 17:30 live on Sky Sports 1
Billed by many as the ‘Battle of Champions’, Celtic play host to Leicester City this Saturday evening as both sides begin their International Champions Cup campaign which will also see them face Barcelona and Paris St-Germain.
This the first high profile match for the Foxes this summer and it will be a good test for the Premier League champions before they begin their title defence in August. Many are expecting a mass exodus from the English Champions but so far they have only seen N’Golo Kante leave the King Power Stadium in a £32 million move to Chelsea.
Jamie Vardy, who is unlikely to feature here has already turned down a move to Arsenal, but there is still interest in him and PFA player of the year Riyad Mahrez as well as others. It remains to be seen if there will be further comings and goings but Ranieri’s laid back manner is still there for all to see which has to be one of his main strengths. He instills, calmness and confidence in his players and will be very important to Leicester if they are to play without pressure as they did last season.
Leicester have already invested in Nampalys Mendy from Nice, a defensive midfielder who looks set to replace Kante. They have also brought in 23 year old CSKA Moscow striker Ahmed Musa for a club record £16 million and will no doubt help bolster their attacking options. Leicester will be taking their title defence very serioulsy.
Last time out, the Foxes defeated Oxford United at Kassam Stadium 2-1 with goals from Demarai Gray and Jeffrey Schlupp, after going 1-0 down. This will be a lot tougher challenge for Leicester though, especially at Celtic Park.
Scottish Champions, Celtic, are playing under new manager Brendan Rodgers this season and he has already come under some criticism. Celtic lost the first leg of their Champions League qualifying match against Gribraltan part-timers, Lincoln Red Imps. Rodgers played down the defeat, saying he or his players weren’t embarrassed by the result, but they should have been.
They got the job done in the second leg though, defeating the Imps 3-0. They also remain unbeaten in 5 pre-season friendlies, including wins over Olimpija Ljubljana, Sturm Graz and Wolfsburg.
On paper, Leicester are the better side, but with home advantage and more matches under their belts, including two competitive UCL qualifiers, Celtic are the value bet on the Asian Handicap betting market here.
Asian Handicap Betting Recommendation: Celtic +0.25 at 2.03
Prices correct at time of writing.
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