With Group E looking like one of the most open sections in the 2023-24 UEFA Champions League, we look ahead to Wednesday’s clash at Celtic Park with our Celtic vs Lazio prediction and preview.
Celtic vs Lazio: The Quick Hits
- The Opta Supercomputer makes Lazio slight favourites for Wednesday’s game, giving them a 40.1% chance of victory. Celtic are assigned a 34.5% chance of a home win.
- Lazio have not lost any of their last seven UEFA Champions League group stage matches, though five of those have finished level.
- Brendan Rodgers has only won two of his 19 previous Champions League games with Liverpool and Celtic. No manager has ever reached 20 games in the competition while overseeing fewer than three wins.
It has been a long time since Celtic’s supporters were able to toast a UEFA Champions League victory. Having suffered a meek 2-0 defeat at Feyenoord on Matchday 1, the Bhoys are winless in 11 games in Europe’s premier club competition, drawing two and losing nine since beating Anderlecht in September 2017. They are looking to set that record straight on Wednesday, but a tough task awaits them against last season’s Serie A runners-up Lazio.
The Scottish champions made a poor start to their latest European campaign, with the second-half dismissals of Gustaf Lagerbielke and Odin Holm compounding their misery. That defeat in Rotterdam means Celtic have now won just one of their last 22 Champions League matches (five draws, 16 defeats).
Few positives could be taken from the underlying numbers, either. No Champions League side managed fewer than Celtic’s eight touches in the opposition area across MD 1, while only Union Berlin (0.24) and Newcastle United (0.28) amassed less than their 0.3 expected goals (xG).
Brendan Rodgers has won just two of his 19 total Champions League matches with Liverpool and Celtic (five draws, 12 losses). None of the 87 managers to reach 20 games in the competition have posted fewer than three wins (Viktor Goncharenko and Rudi Garcia both have three).
Rodgers’ team are faring better on the domestic front, maintaining their unbeaten start to the Scottish Premiership season with Saturday’s dramatic 2-1 win at Motherwell, courtesy of Matt O’Riley’s 97th-minute strike. O’Riley’s seven goal involvements (five goals, two assists) are the most of any player in the Scottish top flight this term.
Luis Palma also scored from the bench on Saturday, and he will hope to return to Celtic’s lineup in support of Kyogo Furuhashi and Daizen Maeda. Defender Cameron Carter-Vickers is still injured, so Liverpool loanee Nat Phillips could replace the suspended Lagerbielke.
Lazio, meanwhile, fought back from a goal down to earn a memorable draw against Atlético Madrid on MD 1. Eleven different Biancocelesti outfielders attempted a shot before Ivan Provedel — in the 95th minute — became the fourth different goalkeeper to score a Champions League goal, following in the footsteps of Hans-Jörg Butt (three between 2000 and 2009), Sinan Bolat (December 2009) and Vincent Enyeama (September 2010).
Provedel’s header stretched Lazio’s unbeaten run in Champions League group stage action to seven games (two draws, five draws). They have only enjoyed a longer streak in 1999-00, when they avoided defeat in their first eight such games in the competition (including a second group phase).
Domestically, however, Lazio are struggling. They’ve endured their worst start to a league campaign since 2007-08, taking seven points from as many games. They were distinctly second-best in Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Milan, which provoked something of a civil war at the club.
Tensions between coach Maurizio Sarri and president Claudio Lotito are reportedly high after the former criticised Lazio’s squad, claiming he was having to “make do” after they failed to land his preferred transfer targets. Lazio have struggled at both ends of the pitch, only averaging a goal per game in Serie A and allowing opponents to accumulate 7.4 xG from open play – more than all but four teams.
Manuel Lazzari, Matías Vecino, Danilo Cataldi and Daichi Kamada all started on the bench on Saturday and could come in here. Captain Ciro Immobile was also limited to a substitute role after sustaining a knock, but he could take Valentín Castellanos’ place in attack if fully fit.
Celtic vs Lazio Head-to-Head
Celtic are defending a 100% record against Lazio, having won both of their previous meetings in the UEFA Europa League in 2019.
Christopher Jullien’s late header handed the Hoops a 2-1 victory in Scotland in October 2019, and they sealed qualification from Group E by winning by the same scoreline at the Stadio Olimpico the following month, with James Forrest and Olivier Ntcham netting.
More generally, Lazio have failed to win any of their last 11 European matches against British teams (four draws, seven defeats) since a 2-1 Champions League victory at Chelsea in March 2000.
Lazio have lost three of their four away games in Serie A this term, beating Napoli but going down to Lecce, Juventus and Milan, and they have also struggled on the road in this competition lately.
They have only won one of their last 16 away Champions League games (five draws, 10 losses), with their sole victory in that run coming at Beşiktaş back in September 2003.
Might their poor travelling record be counteracted by Celtic’s dire home form in Europe, however? The Bhoys are winless in their last 10 home Champions League games (two draws, eight defeats), going 15 such matches without a clean sheet.
Only four teams have ever endured a longer run without a home win in the competition – FCSB (13, 1996-2013), Lille (13, 2006-2021), Club Brugge (12, 2016-2020) and Spartak Moscow (11, 2001-2006).
Opta Power Rankings
The Opta Power Rankings are a global team ranking system that assigns an ability score to over 13,000 domestic football teams on a scale between zero and 100, where zero is the worst-ranked team in the world and 100 is the best team in the world.
Ahead of kick-off on Wednesday night, here is the Opta Power Ranking for both sides.
Celtic vs Lazio Prediction
The Opta supercomputer is siding with the visitors here – but only just!
Lazio were victorious in 40.1% of 10,000 match simulations conducted before kick-off, with Celtic winning 34.5%. The likelihood of a draw stands at 25.4%.
In our overall tournament projections, these teams are outsiders to progress from Group E. While Lazio qualified in 42.86% of group-stage simulations, Celtic are given just an 11.11% chance of a last-16 spot. Atlético (78.35%) and Feyenoord (67.68%) are instead favoured to advance.
Celtic vs Lazio UCL Squads
Celtic: Joe Hart, Scott Bain, Alistair Johnston, Greg Taylor, Gustaf Lagerbielke, Liam Scales, Nathaniel Phillips, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Anthony Ralston, Stephen Welsh, Reo Hatate, Yang Hyun-jun, Odin Holm, Tomoki Iwata, Paulo Bernardo, Matt O’Riley, Callum McGregor, James Forrest, David Turnbull, Luis Palma, Kyogo Furuhashi, Liel Abada, Oh Hyeon-gyu, Daizen Maeda, Mikey Johnston.
Head Coach: Brendan Rodgers
Lazio: Luigi Sepe, Ivan Provedel, Luca Pellegrini, Patric, Alessio Romagnoli, Nicolò Casale, Elseid Hysaj, Manuel Lazzari, Mario Gila, Matías Vecino, Daichi Kamada, Felipe Anderson, Matteo Guendouzi, Luis Alberto, Danilo Cataldi, Nicolò Rovella, Adam Marušić, Pedro, Ciro Immobile, Gustav Isaksen, Valentín Castellanos, Mattia Zaccagni.
Head Coach: Maurizio Sarri