Champions League sections are never easy so we are as well having one which is unequivocally difficult on paper. Despite finishing second from pot 4 in their group last season (a remarkable achievement), Celtic spent the vast majority of their time in the tournament under pressure. They had possession less than their opponents in all six group games, so although we were successful in the group stage, there should be no doubt as the the size of the challenge.
Conversely, we looked Juventus in the eye, which, in retrospect, could be regarded as over ambitious.
When Martin O’Neill’s Celtic drew Barcelona and Milan in the group section of the Champions League the manager was clearly exasperated at the apparently preposterous task. It was Martin’s last throw in the competition and he was anxious to break into the knockout stage for the first time.
The mood music seems different this time. Neil Lennon has been to the knockout stage already so the pressure to breakthrough is not there. Celtic can take one game at a time without the burden of having to prove themselves in this competition. They are now a part of this league, they might not win it, but they can compete with anyone.
We will be second favourites for each game, which is surely the way we would all prefer it to be. Despite what happened last year, even Barca will expect to comfortably overcome Celtic. Surely we can’t be as organised again?
Don’t bet against it.
STV painted an interest picture of the SFA this morning. The Association declined advice from Uefa to come into line with most of Europe (including England, crucially for many Scottish clubs) and extend the transfer window until the first business day of the week.
Doing so, however, would make a mockery of their suspension of Rangers International’s transfer embargo, which expires on 31 August. To accept Uefa’s advice would draw attention to their oversight in not noticing that August ends on a weekend.
We all know this to be the case, but the Association would rather ignore their mistake than help out member clubs and draw attention to it.
Even Jim Farry checked the calendar.
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