Charlie's play-off predictions: Celtic v Astana, Everton v Hajduk Split

Generic Charlie Nicholas image 10/08/2016

Charlie Nicholas provides us with his predictions for the Champions League and Europa League play-offs.

Celtic host Kazakh side Astana on Wednesday as both sides look to reach the Champions League group stages.

In the Europa League, Everton will look to establish an advantage when Hajduk Split visit Goodison Park, but Charlie is not expecting easy ties for either of the British sides. Here's what the Celtic and Arsenal legend is predicting...

Celtic v FC Astana

This is a tremendously important and tricky game from Celtic. They won 3-2 on aggregate when they met last season but Celtic are a stronger side now.

Domestically Brendan Rodgers' side dominated again and there's an understanding that qualifying for the group stages again is absolutely essential financially.

Celtic's Olivier Ntcham celebrates scoring his side's first goal during the Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership match at Firhill Stadium, Glasgow.
Image: Celtic's Olivier Ntcham scored the winner against Partick

Celtic will dominate the possession but Astana will be happy to sit in, absorb the pressure and take a one-goal defeat because it will be a long and uncomfortable trip to Kazakhstan, so Celtic need a two-goal lead in my opinion.

Their striker Junior Kabananga is physical, fast and energetic - everything Celtic are not used to facing domestically - so they'll have to be very wary.

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Rodgers is still missing Moussa Dembele still so Leigh Griffiths is the only proper striker but was left out at the weekend. This is a really awkward night for Celtic and I'm going for a 2-1 win, which leaves them in real danger.

Charlie predicts: 2-1 (15/2 with Sky Bet)

Everton v Hajduk Split (Thursday, 8.05pm)

I covered Everton at the weekend and they were very poor. Wayne Rooney was the best player on the pitch by miles - the only player finding his range - and Ronald Koeman's face was miserable except for when their returning hero scored.

Everton's English striker Wayne Rooney celebrates scoring the opening goal during the English Premier League football match between Everton and Stoke City
Image: Wayne Rooney scored on his Premier League return to Everton

They started with three at the back and then switched to a four. Three central midfield players and three at the back is just too many defensive players and does not make for exciting viewing.

Koeman needs to go out and get another centre-forward because Sandro Ramirez needs a partner. They'll get rid of Ross Barkley and Gylfi Sigurdsson will probably come in but it doesn't matter because they need more attacking movement as Rooney has the greatest impact playing deeper.

They were decent at the back and Jordan Pickford was very good on his debut, making some excellent saves, but Everton have not got many goals in them. They should have enough to come through here, though, against a side who don't have much in terms of attacking threats.

Charlie predicts: 2-0 (9/2 with Sky Bet)

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