After two highly productive performances against Barcelona confidence will be high, but it is worth remembering that Benfica earned a 0-0 draw at Celtic Park on Champions League match day one, and will have no fears for Tuesday.
After that game in September Celtic were favourites to finish bottom of the group. Barca managed a slim 3-2 at home to Spartak after a late surge, placing them top of the group while the Russians were rightly encouraged. Benfica earned a valuable away point without being greatly troubled by Celtic. Indeed, the half time video analysis from the Uefa technicians looped repeatedly on one incident, a Benfica penalty claim.
That scenario has changed. Celtic sit second top but a win would see Benfica match them on points and go second on the head-to-head. Make no mistake, despite Celtic’s heroics against Barcelona, Benfica expect to be second in the group on Tuesday evening. They are rightly favourites.
We are now tantalisingly close to the knock out stages of the Champions League but two of the most difficult games of the season lie ahead. The best thing Celtic can do is show Benfica as much respect as they showed Barcelona. Benfica are not quite as dangerous as the Catalans but they are more than capable of exploiting any gaps in the Celtic defence. Treat them as Barcelona-lite and we might even collect our second win in this tournament away from home.
The Andrea Kearney Fund have a signed Celtic jersey available for auction on eBay. The fund, in memory of Andrea, assists families of women who are diagnosed with cancer while pregnant. Since Andrea died, aged 41, four years ago, over 50 families have been helped.
You can keep an eye on the auction here.
The CQN Annual will be available next week, both online and at one or two selected retail outlets. There’s a cracking image on the cover of a goal celebration from a recent goal….[calameo code=0003901717b03ef5e64cb lang=en page=100 hidelinks=1 width=100% height=500]