Rennes visit Celtic Park tonight already out of the Europa League and are likely to finish bottom of the group, even if they get an unlikely win in Glasgow. They compete in a ridiculously competitive league, with 6th and 15th place separated by no more than a single win. They are home to St Etienne on Sunday, a game with far more importance then their visit to Glasgow.
For Celtic, a win tonight should be enough to see them top the group, take the pressure off a busy December by flexing the squad when we visit Cluj on Match Day 6, and become seeded in the first play-off round. That should be enough motivation to get the job done.
We have three games ahead of the League Cup final, Rennes, Ross County away on Sunday and Hamilton at home on Wednesday. Neil should use plenty of the squad during these games to ensure we arrive at Hampden in peak condition. An intense December will go a long way to determining the outcome of the season, energy levels will be key.
The regular Uefa fines for pyrotechnics are not substantial enough to make a material impact on club operations (yet), as was alluded to at yesterday’s AGM, but the issue needs to be resolved, either with a rule change, a Uefa-ordered closure, or people stop bringing pyrotechnics to the football. I don’t predict a rule change.
I can’t say I am holding out for a win if/when the SFA eventually report on Rangers submissions to the Association for Uefa competitions in 2011. The best chance for what appears to be an unequivocally false submission being identified, was in Uefa taking an interest (not the police).
I don’t buy the falsehood that it is somehow in Celtic’s interest to make this go away, that notion is paranoid nonsense, only blame-the-victim fantasists believe it. Celtic have influence, but not without limit. And despite occasional urging from me, they will wallow in victimhood, like some elsewhere.