Scottish Premier League champions Celtic kick off their 2017/18 campaign at home to Hearts.
Scottish Premier League Saturday 5th August – 12:30 UK Time
Best Odd of: 1/5 at Coral
Best Odd of: 11/2 at Coral
Best Odd of: 14 at Coral
Celtic went the whole of the 2016/17 domestic season unbeaten, winning the Scottish Premier League title and both cup competitions.
Preparations for the new season have been excellent, with them beating Linfield and Rosenborg over two legs to make it through to the UEFA Champions League Play-Off round. They also lost just one friendly out of six, which doesn’t really count against them as it was a team made up of fringe players against a full-strength Lyon side.
After such a successful season, Celtic didn’t really need an overhaul of their squad. Several squad players have left but the core of the team remains the same, with the addition of quality in midfield in the shape of Republic of Ireland international Jonny Hayes.
The champions are almost at full-strength for this game, with Leigh Griffiths returning for the trip to Rosenborg in midweek, but last season’s top scorer Moussa Dembele is still on the injury list.
Hearts are already having a disappointing season, despite their league campaign yet to kick off.
Manager Ian Cathro, who only took the job in December 2016, has already been dismissed after Hearts were the only SPL side to be knocked out of the Scottish League Cup at the group stage.
A defeat away at League Two Peterhead was followed by a home penalty shoot-out loss to Championship side Dunfermline. Those two defeats were the last nail in the coffin for Cathro’s job and he will be replaced by Under-20 boss Jon Daly on a temporary basis.
The players and staff are fully aware of what’s expected of them, and failing to get past a five-team group in which they were the top seeds in a cup competition they had ambitions of winning is not it.
One positive is that new signing Kyle Lafferty scored four goals in their four League Cup games.
Despite this early set-back, an unlikely victory away at Celtic would be the perfect way of building confidence.
Head to Head
Since 1994, these sides have met 93 times. Celtic have won 61, Hearts 16, and there have been 16 draws.
It’s the more recent meetings which show Celtic’s pure dominance over Hearts.
Hearts last beat Celtic in a cup tie on a neutral ground back in April 2012. Since then, Celtic have won seventeen and there have been two draws.
Twelve of those games have seen Hearts fail to score a goal, and they have managed to score two goals in a meeting just once in that time.
The last time Hearts won away at Celtic was in a League Cup tie in October 2009. Their last league win as the visitors came in April 2007.
These teams met on the opening day of last season, with Hearts the home side, and Celtic won 2-1.
Celtic won all four league meetings last season, with 13 goals scored and only one conceded. At home, they won 4-0 and 2-0.
Betting Odds and Predictions
Unfortunately for Hearts fans, we cannot see any other result here than a Celtic win. It looks like the bookmakers agree us.
Coral have the champions priced as a 1/5 favourite, with Hearts at 14/1, and the draw at 5/1.
The bookmakers are so convinced Celtic will win this convincingly that they’re only priced at 8/13 with a -1 handicap, and 31/20 with -2.
Celtic to win to nil is priced at 10/11, and are 2/7 to score 2 or more goals. The champions are 7/5 to win both halves and 8/11 in the Half Time/Full Time market.
There have been more than two goals scored in seven of the last eight meetings between these sides, and we think there will be again here. Over 2.5 Goals is priced at 1/2 and Over 3.5 Goals is 5/4.
We think Hearts will fail to score and it’s priced at 3/4 for Hearts Under 0.5 Goals. However, punters who think the visitors will find the net can get odds of 21/20 for Hearts Over 0.5 Goals, and it’s 23/20 for Both Teams to Score.
Scott Sinclair scored six goals against Hearts last season, including a hat-trick in one game, and he has already netted twice in Champions League qualifiers this season. Therefore, we believe Sinclair is a top bet in the goal scorer markets. You can back him to score anytime at odds of 5/6, net the first goal at 7/2, score 2 or more at 13/5, and it’s 12/1 for him to bag a hat-trick.
Top Betting Tip
It would be simple to tip Celtic to win here but that doesn’t provide any value. If we were tipping for minimum profit, a home win would be our top tip.
However, we think we have found another bet which we are 99% will come in and which pays a higher profit.
That is Celtic to be leading at half time and win the match in the Half Time/Full Time market, which is priced at 8/11 with Coral.