I was concerned about a trip to Estonia after hearing Hearts struggle in their home leg against Estonian opponents last week, so news that Gibraltar’s Lincoln Red Imps beat Flora Tallinn was welcome, although the concern was tempered as news arrived that Hearts were three goals up in the away leg.
The lesson here is that in July, one more week’s training has a huge impact on performance.
Brendan Rodgers will be happy with how training has progressed thus far, but it’s only when players put multiple 90 minutes under their belts that they are ready for competitive action. There’s not necessarily a great deal of work to do to overcome Red Imps (no offence intended), but qualifiers come thick and fast thereafter. Despite beating Slovenian champions Olimpija Ljubljana yesterday, I expect Celtic will be more motivated for Saturday’s game against Maribor.
It gets serious from now onwards.