Spain, the pain, the purple patch


Spain has always been a hard shift for Celtic.  We started our European adventure in the old ‘Fairs Cup with a 4-2 defeat to Valencia in 1962 and lost on our first five visits until the rarest of things – an away result in the 1980s against a team we knew!  That was a 1-1 draw at Atletico Madrid in 1985, although the return leg at a behind closed doors game at Celtic Park brought the return of 80s European form.

The 80s and 90s were largely a write-off for Celtic in Europe.  Things didn’t change until the arrival of Martin O’Neill brought Celtic into the moder era.  We were not back in Spain in competitive action for 16 years, when Valencia edged the first leg in a tie we eventually lost on penalties (Rab Doulgas saved two but Henrik, Stiliyan Petrov and Joos Valgaeren missed).

Then came our purple patch in Spain.  A 2-1 second leg defeat to Celta Vigo in 2002 was enough to see us through on away goals.  The phrase “European competition at Christmas” was on everyone’s lips, the first time we had uttered it since 1979.  Thousands of us travelled to Seville for the Uefa Cup Final that season, when we were denied in controversial circumstances.

In March of 2004 19-year-old David Marshall put in one of the all-time great Celtic goalkeeping performances to secure a 0-0 second leg result in Barcelona, enough to see us through to the Uefa Cup quarterfinal.  That tie sent us back to Spain and a second leg defeat at Villarreal, dreams of a second successive Uefa Cup semifinal ended at the feet of the brilliant Riquelme.

We were back in Spain in November that year, back at the Camp Nou and again returned home with a draw, the first time we took an away point in the Champions League. 2004 was the highpoint for Celtic in Spain.

Since then we have suffered nine defeats in nine visits, uniform results, although they fall into two distinct eras.  We conceded only six goals across the first four visits, scoring twice.  On the last of those occasions, we were denied a point by a final minute goal in the Camp Nou, a result which ultimately cost us top place in the Champions League group.

Then it fell apart as the Catalans seemed to have our measure.  Visits to Barcelona saw us concede six in 2013 and seven in 2016.  Brendan Rodgers said his goodbyes after a 1-0 defeat to Valencia in February 2019.  We ensured a bizarre defeat to Real Betis early in the Ange Postecoglou reign, allowing a two-goal lead to slip.  Ange took us back to Spain in last season’s Champions League, we attacked with vigour and lost convincingly.

Even a draw tonight would be an historic result.  I had no expectations other than a defeat to Atletico at Celtic Park two weeks ago, so what do I know?  The guy cleaning the office windows just told me we’re going to win 1-2, that’ll do.

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  1. Nicholson fails to call this out despite overwhelming evidence. The only conclusion is that he is comfortable with the levelling up exercise, Nicholson and the Celtic board are a bigger issue than the SFA enablers.






  2. 1 of the comments on the above.



    Nobody can prove 100% that VAR officials or Refs are cheating Celtic….what you can prove though are the glaring inconsistencies, which would be put down to “honest mistakes” so to expect MN to call it out as cheating is a non starter.

  3. Twitter



    Scottish referee David Dickinson was on VAR the evening of the Jota goal.


    Suspicions were raised when he wouldn’t forward a pic.


    When he eventually did, it was ridiculous.



    Subsequently transpired that a ‘camera malfunctioned’ on Dickinson’s watch…





    …this wasn’t mentioned at the time, you understand.



    It wasn’t until the Motherwell CEO at the time divulged information about the cameras and footage, that we got there a day or two later.

  4. The hardest match in the group coming up tonight.


    I wouldn’t have expected much from tonight even if the club had bought the players required to play at this level.


    However the fact that the board didn’t take the champions league seriously this season as seen by the signings made meant getting through the group was going to be virtually impossible.

  5. Expecting very little tonight. If Feyenoord can win in Rome then we’ll have plenty to play for in our last two games.

  6. bournesouprecipe on

    I think Brendan will go,









    Johnston Taylor












    Maeda and Palma playing a bit deeper than normal, Kyogo to score on the break

  7. Paul 67,



    Great summary of our Spanish misadventures to date



    I hope your window cleaner is a clairvoyant.




  8. Only a fool would predict a Celtic win tonight so expectations low and hope, as always, high.



    Think we lost the surprise element two weeks ago and not expecting AM to take us lightly, which would have been nice.



    Big emphasis on Brendan’s tactical game and the team playing out their skins for much longer. But hard to paper over a weak bench and too many SPFL-level players.



    Our ECL game day reminder that the guardians of our club don’t take this tournament seriously but would rather use it to prop up the rainy day fund. Hope everyone out there enjoys the trip and gets home safely.




  9. “BIG WAVY on 7TH NOVEMBER 2023 12:45 PM


    Only a fool would predict a Celtic win tonight ”



    I think we will lose but I still think that is a terrible comment.

  10. GlassTwoThirdsFull on









    Would like to genuinely feel that optimistic but I still worry about our ability to get the basics right at this level.


    Hope we don’t just sit back and let them come at us. They will break us down eventually.

  11. If being first to recommend Aussie Ange on here as our next manager cos I’d seen his teams up close in AUS, enjoying the interim success he gave us when here – like many others – and then not giving a fuggh what he does after he’s gone – like many others – as it’s just a step-stone job for him, makes me a snowflake then it sure is a world of eccentric interpretations and lazy labels, Celtic Mac.



    To be clear, I didn’t look for Spurs results before he joined them and I’m sure not looking for them now.



    Let’s molocate these Madrileños bhoys!




  12. TEXASTIM re: starters for CL



    I do love the photo. First 5 mins or so or Celtic themed for a couple of hundred US sales folks who will probably be thinking WTF?

  13. AIPPLE


    Is back row far right two different shots of the same guy or yer sales team twins ??

  14. HOT SMOKED on 7TH NOVEMBER 2023 12:50 PM


    I think we will lose but I still think that is a terrible comment.





    Colour me surprised. Again.



    Rent Free csc




  15. Nice one Aipple :) Fancy yourself as a center forward? Was in Madrid last week, just awful scheduling on my part. Great city, with lot’s of good bars and restaurants for the traveling bhoys to enjoy.

  16. The very defining notion of bad planning. . I have been in Spain for a while but fly out to London at 6.50pm local time tonight .


    Good luck to the Celts


    I was at that Valencia home leg in 1962.

  17. Mon the hoops from Delray Beach Florida!


    Presenting at Sales Conference today and using this as one of my slides to chat about team.









    If that’s the line up for tonight in Madrid, we’re in trouble! Although the guy with the bandana and the one with the moustache look like they can handle themselves!

  18. MNCELT



    Madrid last week? Amateur.






    MCPHAIL BHOY re: bandana man.



    He’ll be happy to hear that comment!

  19. AIPPLE on 7TH NOVEMBER 2023 12:53 PM


    Mon the hoops from Delray Beach Florida!



    Presenting at Sales Conference today and using this as one of my slides to chat about team.







    That all looks credible except the shorts of the lady in the front row on the left. A bit of photoshop is required.

  20. Listening to AJ and Callum being interviewed, it sounds like Brendan is really working on making the bhoys believe they can do things in this competition. The players need that self-confidence and belief in their teammates if we are to taste success at this level. The last couple of games have seen performance improvement and we just need to find a way to add goals to our good play. Realistically we are short in 2 or 3 areas, and the model to build and sell players doesn’t help team development, but we’re closing the gap on the mid-tier teams. Feeling good about our chances tonight, Atletico were no great shakes at Parkhead and they’re there for the taking.

  21. AM have gone from 2/7 with ladbrokes to 2/5.


    Apart from the obvious of money going on Celtic, is there any other reason for this? AM injuries, for instance?



    Maybe Big Wavy has put on a pile :-))

  22. Maybe do something a bit odd tonight, add two to midfield, go three at the back, let Kyogo drop into the ’10’ and let Daizen party further up in half a pitch. No ‘wingers’.



    Our midfield 5 to choke their supply lines to Morata & Griezmann.



    Play a high defensive line, they have no pace up front.

  23. ANDY HALLIDAY has given his ” Take” on ” WHY” 4th Official DAVID DICKENSON was smiling at the Hun Manager on Sunday immediately after the Huns 2nd Goal v Hearts on Sunday.


    Halliday has now Claimed that Clement had been giving Dickenson on the touchline a bit of a hard time for a while during the game, due to some decisions going against the Huns, and that Clement would be happier due to the Huns scoring their 2nd Goal.



    HALLIDAY obviously thinks that the Celtic support are as THICK as he is !



    Just another HUN CHUMP.



    NOT even most Hearts fans would swallow that ” invention” by Halliday.




  24. Another question:


    We play tonight so why are we playing Aberdeen on Sunday instead of Saturday? The Huns, who play on Thursday, also play on Sunday but before us.


    On the surface , it doesn`t seem to make sense. Is it TV or is there another reason?

  25. NICK on 7TH NOVEMBER 2023 2:30 PM


    Maybe do something a bit odd tonight,





    You maybe onto something there mate….Lets try and start with 15 Celtic players on the Pitch !






    I fear the worst tonight, but hopefully I am completely wrong ?



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