When Celtic make their trip to the ‘neat little town they call Belfast’ (I’ve been off radar recently, assume it’s still described thus) they will have no reason to believe they are ready for a game of football which could determine the success or failure of the coming season. Instead the players will share a degree of anxiousness.
Cliftonville rank about as low as is possible to get in European competition but they will be better than the Arbroath team which left Glasgow with a draw last season against a Celtic team who were motoring at the time.
We have some concerning history against the Irish. Celtic’s first ever Champions League qualifier was against St Patrick’s Athletic in 1998. The visitors left Celtic Park with a 0-0 draw before Celtic won 0-2 in Ireland. In the 1979-80 European Cup Dundalk gave us a fright. Celtic won the first leg 3-2, at home, but had to endure a nervous second half in Dundalk as the home side searched, in vain as it turned out, for the goal which would allow them to win the tie on away goals.
Anything less than 100% on Wednesday will see Celtic walk a tightrope………
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