FORMER Celtic defender Andreas Hinkel believes the Hoops are well-placed to cause an upset as they travel to Germany to face Bayer Leverkusen in matchday five of the Europa League group stages - arguing that Gerardo Seoane's men could be vulnerable after a period of shaky results.

The Bundesliga outfit ran out comfortable 4-0 winners during the reverse fixture at Parkhead in September but Bayer have struggled for form - domestically, at least - since the meeting.

Leverkusen have played nine times in the intervening period, collecting four points from their European double-header with Real Betis, but were also knocked out of the German Cup by second-tier Karlsruher and recorded just two league victories.

Celtic, meanwhile, have racked up eight wins in their last nine outings - and Hinkel believes the high-flying Celts could have the edge in terms of their mentality going into the key Europa League clash.

"Bayer Leverkusen are a very good team," he told the Daily Record. "You could see that in the first game in Glasgow.

"But that was a few weeks ago and I’m not sure Leverkusen are having their best period at the moment.

"When you see the last eight games, they only won two of them.

"There was a very tough loss to Bayern Munich [Leverkusen lost 5-0] which was hard for them and a couple more bad results followed.

"Of course, they have great qualities, but sometimes there are moments in a season.

"I can see that Celtic, after the defeat to Leverkusen, have won every game except one which was a draw.

"Sometimes football is in the head and, at this moment, it might be that Celtic has just a little bit more self-confidence.

"They could be stronger in the head at this time. It is natural to say that, due to the quality of the Leverkusen players, they are the favourites to win the match because they are also at home.

"But the head is important. Always during a season, Leverkusen can have periods when they are not strong or consistent.

"They always have a good team with good players playing counter attack, but at the moment, it’s not that bad a time to face them.

"I’ve not seen the games, just the results. But it seems Celtic are getting better and maybe used more and more to the new manager, the philosophy.

"The results are showing they are in a better period than when they last played against Leverkusen.”