CELTIC supporters are starting to believe in their side on the European stage after last night’s thrilling match against Bayern Munich in the Champions League.
The 2-1 defeat was enough to eliminate Celtic from the Champions League but they remain in prime position to progress to the Europa League after Anderlecht took another thumping in Paris, to remain pointless in Group B.
People should remember that Anderlecht are the third seeds in Group B and so far have failed to score a goal or get anything other than a tanking from the three other sides in the group.
They have two matches remaining, at home to Bayern on 22 November when Celtic are in Paris and then they travel to Parkhead on 5 December.
Unlikely as it seems for the Belgian Champions, who have a goal difference of minus 15 so far, they would have to at least draw with Bayern, hope that Celtic will lose away to PSG and then travel to Glasgow and win. If both sides lose on match day 5 then it will take a 4-1 or 4-0 victory at Celtic for Anderlecht to progress.
That seems unlikely. Celtic’s confidence is sky high after pushing Bayern Munich all the way. Importantly for Brendan Rodgers his players did that by playing their own style of football. There was no pragmatism on show from the home side in the East End of Glasgow last night.
Rodgers knows that his side are almost there at this level. They need to take their chances – it was probably harder for Stuart Armstrong to miss that early chance than to score it. That was his “Tony Watt” moment and at this level the ball needs to end up in back of the net.
Boyata, so reliable throughout 2017, choose the wrong night to make a complete mess of a speculative punt down the park from a Bayern goalkeeper who was being put under pressure by a spirited Celtic performance.
Those are the breaks, but Celtic won back their self respect at this level and that could be invaluable as they seek to take care of Anderlecht and for Brendan Rodgers to achieve his target of European Football after Christmas.
Dropping into the Europa League, Celtic are likely to play sides closer in standard to Anderlecht than PSG and Bayern Munich. The Parisans will have their eyes on winning their first ever Champions League in May and having seen them in the flesh few Celtic fans would bet against them achieving their goal.
This morning Scotzine reported on the thoughts of Celtic legends Stan Petrov, Henrik Larsson and John Hartson. They all starred in the Celtic side that had a brilliant UEFA Cup run, after failing to reach the Champions League losing a play-off to the Swiss Champions Basel.
That set-back was quickly forgotten and they enjoyed a memorable campaign that took them all the way to the Final in Seville, where they lost 3-2 to Porto after extra time.
So can this Celtic side pull off a similar feat in this season’s Europa League?
If they can then the Celtic supporters, officially recognised by FIFA as the best fans in the world for 2017, will be heading in their tens of thousands to the 2018 UEFA Europa League final which will be played at Stade de Lyon in central France on Wednesday 16 May.
Can they do it? Why the devil not!
With Scotland out of the World Cup again it would give the Scottish game a signifiant boost.
Brendan Rodgers – The Road to Paradise is available now from CQNBookstore.com – the first 100 orders received will come with a free gift.