Spartak Moscow will have considered Celtic’s history away from home in the Champions League and this afternoon will look each other in the eye and warn against complacency. There is nothing in 20 games in this competition proper to alarm them, but there is nothing in that 11 year history which will prepare them to meet this Celtic team.
Not since Martin O’Neill took his side to Turin in 2001 have we approached a Champions League away match with such enthusiasm. Celtic will approach this game knowing they have nothing to lose and everything to gain from imposing the team and personal development achieved over the last 18 months on Spartak.
The game also comes at a convenient window in our permanent injury crisis but with Spartak robbed of key players throughout the team.
At home against Benfica two weeks ago concentration was the important sentiment but tonight is a different game. The foreign environs will ensure Celtic players are always acutely of their surroundings but they also provide a platform, and a playing surface, for them to express themselves.
Although Celtic’s away record in this tournament has been poor the better performances have come against the bigger challenges: a draw in the Camp Nou, 0-0 after 90 minutes before losing in extra time in the San Siro, and it took ridiculous penalty decisions at the Stadio Dello Alpi and Old Trafford to deny us a point, so don’t be confused by the stats.
This one is there for us.