FOR a club with such a groundbreaking European tradition, Celtic’s recent performances have regrettably only been a shadow of the glory years of the 1960s, with the win at Anderlecht in last year’s campaign being the Bhoys’ first victory in a group stage match at the 16th time of asking.
However, with each new season comes fresh hope, and with the recent announcement of the draw for the qualifying rounds of the 2018/19 Champions’ League, this is a good time to reflect back on some of Celtic’s stunning European successes.
Before we do if you think Celtic are going to go far in this year’s European competitions then it could be worth betting on them in each game this season. You can see more tips for euro games over at Footy Accumulators check here throughout the season for some betting insights.
1967 EUROPEAN CUP FINAL
The Lisbon Lions’ 2-1 victory over Inter Milan in the 1967 European Cup Final remains one of the most memorable events in British football history. In the first European Final appearance by a British club (and to date the only one by a Scottish team), Celtic were facing the champions in two of the last three tournaments (1964 and 1965) who had recently lost the chance of recording an historic treble, so this match represented Inter’s only chance of silverware.
Despite going behind to a seventh-minute penalty-kick converted by Sandro Mazzola, Celtic rallied in the second-half with goals by Tommy Gemmell (63) and then Stevie Chalmers (84) to record a legendary victory. The delirium of the Celtic fans celebrating on the pitch after the match meant that the trophy had famously to be presented in the stands.
1970 EUROPEAN CUP SEMI-FINAL
The 1970 European Cup semi-final against Leeds United was another historic occasion for Celtic as it was the first time the champions of Scotland and England had played each other in a competitive match in Europe. After winning the away leg at Elland Road 1-0, courtesy of an early goal from George Connelly, the tie returned to Hampden Park, with the match being played in front of an astonishing 136,505 people – still the record attendance for a European tie. Celtic went on to win the second leg 2-1 and progressed to the final in Milan, where they were beaten 2–1 by Dutch side Feyenoord.
1974 EUROPEAN CUP SEMI-FINAL
The 1974 European Cup Semi-final against Atlético Madrid is not memorable for the result (with Celtic eventually going out 0-2 on aggregate), but rather for the highly combative nature of the two matches. In short, Atlético set out to kick Celtic from the first whistle to the last in what football purists still consider to be one of the most unsporting European ties of all time. In the first leg at Parkhead, which ended 0-0, three Atlético players were sent off after fouling non-stop for the 90 minutes, and there was a fight in the tunnel after the match. The second leg away was a little less confrontational, with the Spanish side coming out on top 2-0 (they would eventually be thrashed in the replayed Final by Bayern Munich 4-0).
1984/85 CUP-WINNERS’ CUP SECOND ROUND
This game against Rapid Vienna is another encounter that lives on in Celtic folklore for perhaps the wrong reasons, this time the acrimony took place both on and off the pitch. The rancour started in the first away leg, which Celtic lost 1-3. Alan McInally was sent off and the Austrian side accused Peter Grant of stamping on one of their players; however, Celtic were likewise incensed that their were no punishments meted out to the Austrian players for their blatant roughhouse tactics. The bad feeling carried over to the return leg at Parkhead. Rapid Vienna continued the tactic of fouling at every available opportunity, but could not prevent Celtic taking a 3-0 lead.
Late on in the game, Celtic’s Tommy Burns was punched by Reinhard Kienast and all hell broke loose, with Celtic fans pelting the pitch with coins and, infamously, at least one bottle, resulting in Vienna’s Rudi Weinhofer being carried off with an apparent head injury (although witnesses swear that the bottle that came from the crowd landed nowhere near him). Celtic won the tie 4-3, but Vienna appealed the result, citing the injury to Weinhofer; this was dismissed, but a second appeal was eventually upheld and so the match was ordered to be replayed at Old Trafford. Celtic lost 0-1, with outraged fans invading the pitch and assaulting Vienna players in the final stages, meaning that the next European campaign had to be played behind closed doors.
2003 EUROPA LEAGUE FINAL
In stark contrast to the goings on in 1985, in 2003, Celtic fans won universal praise for their conduct during the 2003 Europa League Final against Porto in Seville, when 80,000 of them descended on the Spanish city in what at the time was the largest travelling support ever seen. In fact, the Celtic supporters, who came to be known as The Bhoys from Seville, received Fair Play Awards from both FIFA and UEFA “for their extraordinarily loyal and sporting behaviour.” It was 2-2 at full time, with goals by Henrik Larsson in the 47th and 57th minutes, the game went to extra-time and looked set to be heading for penalties, before a goal by Derlei after 115 minutes clinched the match for the Portuguese, giving them their first European title in 16 years.
CELTIC IN EUROPE 2018/19
Celtic’s path to European success in 2018/19 will be a long one if it is to emulate the glories of the Lisbon Lions. The Champions’ League campaign begins away on July 11 against Armenian side Alashkert, with the return leg in Glasgow on July 18. The Bhoys will be attempting to reach the group stages for the third consecutive year, although it will be harder this campaign to claim one of the four spots available for league winners than in previous years, as the number of teams in the qualifying rounds has increased from 22 to 26, meaning Celtic will have to win four two-legged ties to progress to the tournament proper (although it will have the advantage of being seeded). A loss at any stage will mean dropping down into the Europa League.
It is hard to imagine, however, Celtic not getting through over two legs against Alashkert, and so this sets up the prospect of a second-round tie against Norwegian side Rosenborg, who Brendan Rogers’ men beat 1-0 in the qualifying round last season. The expectation is that, even with this longer qualifying process in place, Celtic should make it through to the group stages of the Champions’ League and, with the increased exposure to European football under Rogers, there is a good prospect of making it out of their group. Although the markets are only just being framed, most destinations for football punters will give you odds of 7-1 on Celtic making it to the Last 16 of the Champions’ League in 2018/19. However, any success beyond this is regarded as a long shot — current odds range between 500-1 to 2000-1 on Celtic managing to win the title.
However, this is certainly a better value betting proposition than is currently being offered on Celtic domestically. For instance, the odds on the Bhoys winning an eighth consecutive SPL title are a staggeringly short odds-on price of 1-10, while the odds on Rogers’ men taking out a third consecutive treble (SPL, FA Cup and League Cup) are currently a remarkably short 15-4.