For me, there is always trepidation before playing away from home in Europe, especially against a club from one of the big leagues. Week-in, week-out, they face clubs who play with skill, strength and pace never seen in places like Hamilton or Dingwall. Trips to Ibrox is currently as hard as it gets for Celtic and that venue is not particularly taxing (cough).
Last month’s win over PSG enabled Rennes to sit second in the table, only two points behind the illustrious French champions, but this is new territory for tonight’s opponents. They reached the Europa League due to their Cup Final win over PSG, not their 10th place league finish. We should not be overly distracted by their current lofty position.
Celtic can defend well, have genuine pace and carry a goal threat from several sources. And our recent trip to Ibrox provided a template for how Neil Lennon is likely to approach tonight’s game.
There is also our own French factor to consider. Odsonne Edouard and Olivier Ntcham are known in their homeland for their achievements with the French youth system. They both have a point to prove to the French public tonight. Christopher Jullien will also be keen to do well. He moved from a bigger league to a bigger club. Tonight he can stand up the insight in that decision.