Jack Beresford looks at all the statistics you must consider ahead of Celtic’s trip to Maribor in the first-leg of this Champions League qualifier.
The decision to throw Legia Warsaw out of the Champions League may have granted Celtic a reprieve from their 6-1 humiliation at the hands of the Polish side, but Ronny Deila’s team will need to avoid a repeat of the mistakes that saw them come so close to an early European exit.
Maribor may have edged past tricky opposition in the form of Maccabi Tel Aviv in the previous round, but the Slovenian side remain underdogs against a team boasting talents like Kris Commons and Anthony Stokes among others.
Ahead of the big-kick off at Ljudski vrt, we have the five key statistics to consider before Celtic go in search of Champions League redemption.
Callum McGregor is an assassin on the road in Europe
Fresh from enjoying a largely successful season-long loan spell at Notts County last term, McGregor has been the one shining light in Celtic’s otherwise troubled European campaign so far.
The 21-year-old netted 14 goals in 40 appearances for the Magpies and has taken that scoring form with him on the road in Europe, having hit the opening goal in the Hoops’ previous two away games in the Champions League qualifying stages.
Maribor’s defensive record makes for pleasant Celtic reading
Slovenian PrvaLiga champions they may be, but Maribor have endured their fair share of defensive lapses of late, with seven goals conceded across their previous four competitive fixtures heading into this encounter.
Maribor endured something of a nightmare last time out in the league too, losing 3-1 to Celje in a result that has seen them slip six points behind Domzale in the Slovenian top-flight standings.
Stokes needs to step up in the Champions League
The former Arsenal academy star enjoyed arguably his best ever campaign for the Hoops last term, scoring 20 goals in 33 Scottish Premiership outings for the Champions – the first time in four season that he has hit the 20 goal mark domestically – but needs to step up in Europe.
Stokes has featured 20 times for Celtic in Europe over the past four seasons without finding the net, having last scored for the Bhoys with a brace against French side Rennes in the Europa League back in 2011.
Having netted for the Hoops in back-to-back league encounters, he needs to turn up here and fill the void left by Georgios Samaras’ departure.
The Slovenian side often strike first in continental competition
When it comes to the qualifying stages of the Champions League, Maribor evidently follow the old mantra that first impressions count for a lot.
In three of their previous four encounters at this stage of the competition, the Slovenia side have struck first, scoring the first goal of the game home and away against Maccabi Tel Aviv and striking first against Zrinjski in the previous round. Celtic beware.
Three is the magic number for Celtic on the road domestically
The seeding of the draw for these qualifiers means that, while Maribor may have done well to progress this far, they may not provide as stern a test to Celtic’s credentials as previous opponents Legia Warsaw.
As such, it could be wise to heed the form Celtic have enjoyed on the road in the Scottish Premiership of late. The season may only be two games old, but the Bhoys 3-0 win away at St Johnstone means that the Hoops have now scored 29 goals over their last 10 games on the road, at an average of just under three goals a game.
And with three Celtic goals scored in four of their last six away games in the Scottish Premiership, it could be a number to look out for come the final whistle of this contest.