This season’s Europa League may be just one round old, but Scottish football has already suffered the kind of bitter disappointment and embarrassment that has become an unwanted tradition in recent years. The Premiership boasted four teams in UEFA’s two competitions but are already down to three.
Celtic aim to battle their way through the Champions League qualifiers and reach the group stages when there’s big money at stake but they have a marathon ahead of them, having been dropped in at the qualifying first round. Fellow Scottish top-tier sides Rangers, Kilmarnock and Aberdeen all compete in the Europa League but also go into the opening qualifier.
Three of the four sides secured their passage to the next stage thanks to aggregate wins, Kilmarnock being the odd one out. The Rugby Park club celebrated qualification to the Europa League like they had won the competition outright back in spring, but their stay ended after just two games, eliminated by Welsh Premier League minnows Connah’s Quay Nomads.
Kille banked a 2-1 away win and looked on-course to progress but were stunned when losing 2-0 in front of their own fans, exiting thanks to a 3-2 aggregate score. That will take some getting over.
There was more to shout about for followers of the Old Firm and Aberdeen. Celtic beat Premier League BH rep Sarajevo 5-2 over two legs, Rangers smashed St Josephs of Gibraltar 10-0 and Aberdeen battled past Finland’s RoPS 4-2.
The Kilmarnock scandal aside, it was an impressive start for Scottish sides on the continent, but do they have a chance of reaching the group stages and securing a share of the cash pot? Stick to the basics of betting, following trends and form, and most would see a bet on Celtic and Rangers as a decent investment, avoiding a Dons side who have failed to impress at this level in recent times.
Glasgow smiles better
You can back the Glasgow sides to win each of their matches during the qualification rounds or look ahead and get your stake down on them qualifying. Major bookmakers are even offering odds on Celtic winning the Champions League and Rangers the Europa League, but that’s far-fetched, to put it politely.
There’s a number football betting offers covering the Scottish teams’ chances, such as a welcome bonus for new customers, bonuses on winning accumulators and price boosts. Free bets offered to new players makes taking a chance on an outsider like Celtic and Rangers easier to do as it limits the risk posed to your own funds.
The games continue to come thick and fast at this time of year with the Champions League second qualifying round played on 24th and 30th July, Europa League second qualifying round on 25th July and 1st August.
Celtic line-up against Nomme Kalju of Estonia, Aberdeen face Georgia’s Chikhura Sachkhere while Rangers are back in against Luxembourg’s Progrès Niederkorn. The latter is a game of real note as Progres famously eliminated Rangers from the Europa League two seasons ago.
Revenge is sweet
This match gives Steven Gerrard’s side the chance to gain revenge and that will ensure a big performance from the players and a sell-out stadium. Fans have been waiting for this chance since Pedro Caixinha stood in a bush assuring them things would improve.
This tie couldn’t have come at a better time for Rangers following their stunning win over St Josephs in the last round, dishing out a 10-0 aggregate hammering to the side that finished third in the Gibraltar Premier League last season. Progres represent a step up in class but The Gers sparkled over two legs with top striker Alfredo Morelos hitting four goals in two games. Former England attacker Jermain Defoe helped himself to a couple and there were also goals for new signing Aribo, Jack, Ojo and Goldson.
Speaking to the press at the conclusion of the 6-0 win on Thursday 18 July, Steven Gerrard declared himself pleased with the performance. The Liverpool legend made sweeping changes to his Rangers squad during pre-season, bringing in a number of new faces, and must now look to trim his squad and balance the books. The gaffer told fans the club are almost where they want to be in terms of recruitment, with the emphasis now on reducing the bloated numbers.