So Celtic have yet again fought their way to the Champions League group stages and lets be honest this is where their season will be defined as their league campaign will just be a procession, they are so much better than any other team anything less would be a sackable offence for incumbent manager Brendan Rodgers. To be fair to the Northern Irishman he has made it look easy domestically, unbeaten in all national skirmishes last season (43 wins and 4 draws) winning the treble and in fantastic style, with the credit massively going to the manager in his first full season. They are so much an improved team from the dying embers of the Ronny Delia reign, who also won the the title in both his seasons mind, hence there has to be a bit of a proviso.
Their only defeats last season came in the Champions League, where they finished bottom of their group with a record of 3 draws and 3 defeats, one a 7-0 thrashing from Barcelona in the Nou Camp. Admittedly they did get a group from hell with also a Pep enhanced Manchester City and at the time a progressive Borussia Monchengladbach. It is not helpful they fall into the bottom pot of seeds, but people from outside of supporting the club will always question the teams ability at the highest level with results as they got last year in Europe’s number one club competition. They actually got respectable draws home and away against the English side, but when they really needed to step it up against their German opponents at fortress Celtic Park, in what was basically a Europa League qualification play off for third place in the group, they messed it up big time. A 0-2 defeat and yet more ammunition for those who say Celtic cannot cut it at the highest level and they are just a huge football club only in name because of their history.
FLAT TRACK BULLIES
The draw for this seasons Champions League has pitted them against Bayern Munich (managed by three time winner Carlo Ancelotti), Paris Saint-Germain (some bloke called Neymar has just been bought by them) and Anderlecht, the curse of the pot 4 seeding. Whilst they will give their all and most definitely give the two big boys a game, especially at home, it is unexpected for them to qualify from the group as one of the top 2, though if they did, they might possibly be let of winning everything else. In all seriousness the minimum requirement from this group is third and qualification for the Europa League last 32. Anything less, Celtic and manager Brendan Rodgers will be stood accused of just being bully boys against teams they should be beating anyway within their domestic set up. Funnily enough on that front it could be argued that there is a slight mini crisis at Parkhead already as they dropped points last weekend, at HOME too, and actually do not top the league table, this wont last for long though.
JUDGEMENT WILL BE MADE ON EURO PERFORMANCES
As we hit the first international break the club season will really take on significance come early September. The domestic results will be expected and the real judgements will come from when they play in Europe. They start their Champions League campaign at home to Paris Saint-Germain a stirring performance could be the kick start they need for a successful campaign on the continent, even if that ends in a Europa run for the new year. Their reputation, outside of Scotland at least, depends on progress in that sphere .
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