Roberto Mancini must have watched plenty of Celtic while planning for the teams Europa League meeting, but there was little to concern the Italian. So much so, he picked an attack-minded team for the Celtic Park leg, and arranged a four-day stay over in Italy before the team headed to St Petersburg.
For a side that looked to be in desperate need for time on the training field, spending more days at airports and in hotels does not look like wise planning. When heading to the dressing room on Thursday night, the last thing anyone in the Zenit party must have wanted was more time on the road, after their trips to Dubai and Turkey. This team needed to get home to find their game face.
It is clear that Zenit failed to show Celtic or Brendan Rodgers sufficient respect in thinking they could win the tie in Glasgow. They are a powerful side, so the outcome remains open, but the question Mancini will most struggle with, is ‘Where did that Celtic performance come from?’ He has no idea what to expect from Celtic in St Petersburg, nor do his players.
There’s been a bit of chat online about the risk, or otherwise, to Celtic fans in St Petersburg this week. Celtic’s Supporter Liaison Officer, John Paul Taylor, has been in touch with SLOs from Liverpool, Rosenburg and Benfica, each of whom faced Zenit recently. Their advice is:
“All Clubs recommend that fans use the buses which will depart from pick up point close to the Petrovsky stadium (see map attached) they stated that this is the safest way to get to the Stadium. Fans are asked to be at the pick up point at 18:30 and Police will lead the buses in a convoy at 19:00.
“Fans who travel with Celtic Travel should use their own buses and all other fans should use the municipal buses, there will be a few of us on hand to provide assistance if required. At Full Time, fans who are on the Celtic Charter must return to their own bus as these will head straight to the airport. I’ve asked that the municipal buses take fans back to the Petro Palace Hotel but it looks like they will only take fans back to the original pick up point, if this changes I’ll update it on my twitter @CelticFCSLO
“The other advice given was that fans should not wear colours if going into town at night, all three Clubs stressed this quite strongly and also advised fans to stay in larger groups, their advice was not to walk around town in small numbers.
“As far as we are aware, taxis are the best way to get around, the Metro is available however Liverpool fans encountered some issues when using the Metro again though this was when it was fans in small groups.”