If Celtic overcome Nomme Kalju in the Champions League second qualifying round, they will face either Cluj or Maccabi Tel-Aviv in the third qualifier.
Cluj are one of those clubs who will never be taken lightly, after a remarkable win away to Roma in the Champions League nine years ago, but recent times have not been as prosperous. They lost out in last year’s Europa League qualifiers to Luxembourg’s Dudelange. In the first qualifying round this season, Cluj recorded an unexpected win against Astana, who are seeded only slightly lower than Celtic.
Maccabi Tel-Aviv went out of the Europa League playoff round last season to Norwegians, Sarpsborg. This was a poor showing by Maccabi, but there are caveats – the Norwegians were midseason and subsequently put on a decent showing in their Europa group.
Apart from Saturday’s Super Cup, this will be Maccabi Tel-Aviv’s first competitive outing of the season, so you would not bet against Cluj taking down their second seed of the campaign.
There is work to do, but it we cannot reach the payoff round from this draw, we do not deserve to be there.