When this draw was made, Valencia were fighting relegation from La Liga and we consoled ourselves with the thought that they had greater priorities than the Europa League. Two months on and they are a single point off a qualification spot for Europe next season, a result of a significant improvement in form.
The Spanish side dropped to the Europa from this season’s Champions League, where their only away defeat came in a 1-0 loss at Juventus. A draw at Young Boys and at Manchester United tells its own story. This team can travel. They beat Manchester and Young Boys in Valencia and only failed to progress to the knockout round on account of dropping the ball against Juventus.
By any measure, Celtic are underdogs, but there is reason to hope.
The squad was unquestionably improved during the January transfer window. Each game since has been won easily without a goal conceded. Oliver Burke, Timo Weah and Jeremy Toljan added genuine talent. This is one of those occasions when we really don’t know how good this Celtic team is. Neither do Valencia, as they will have learned little from our repeated humbling of St Johnstone.
Tonight we need to find the form that swept aside Leipzig in the group stage. Do that, and we will travel to Spain with a sporting chance.