Barcelona, Manchester City, Borussia Mönchengladbach… Gulp
We wanted to mix it with the big boys, and we’ve certainly got our wish.
For the fourth time in our last five Champions League campaigns we’ve been drawn against FC Barcelona in Europe’s elite competition.
Alongside our familiar foes we face up to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, and fellow Play-Off victors Borussia Mönchengladbach.
We couldn’t have been dealt a tougher draw, but are we there just to make up the numbers? Of course not.
Right now I don’t anticipate Celtic picking about a point in Group C, never mind enough to qualify. But we all know what happens once the campaign starts; once Celtic Park begins to rock on a European night. No matter who we face, when matchday comes around at Paradise we all begin to believe again.
The biggest cause of this misplaced optimism? Simply, because it’s true. On those most special nights at Celtic Park we can beat anyone. Yes, “can” is the operative word here, but however unlikely, our past experiences are enough to make us dream.
Realistically, it will be a mammoth task for Celtic to compete in Group C. We’re expected to end the campaign bottom of the pile, probably by most, without ammasing a single point on the board, but having craved Champions League football for the past two seasons, we are now returning to dine at the top table, and we’re here to cause the greatest of upsets.
In Barcelona we face the greatest player on the planet, the greatest attacking force on on the planet, and quite possibly the greatest footballing side on the planet.
In Manchester City we face possibly the greatest manager in the game, a revitalised squad filled with top class talent, and a forward in Sergio Aguero whose rare talent is one of a few to claim to be a match for the Barcelona front line.
How about the 3rd seeds in our group? Surely there’s cause for hope here? 24 hours on from our nerve shredder in Israel, Borussia Mönchengladbach were cruising past Young Boys in their own Play-Off fixture, winning the tie 9-2 on aggregate.
There really are no easy ties here.
But four years on from ITV’s infamous “Bye, bye Celtic” tweet (as we drew Barcelona, Benfica, and Spartak Moscow in the Champions League group stages.) Could we have the last laugh again? Could lightening strike twice?
With just under a week to get our squad in shape before the transfer window closes, it’s essential we now bring in some proven quality, especially in the middle of the park. On Tuesday night I wrote how we now have the manager, the draw of Champions League football, and the money to make a statement signing. Well, now we can 6 glamour ties to the list to entice a star name to Paradise.
Do we have a chance of progressing through to the last 16? Nope. Do we have a chance of dropping into the Europa? Not really. Is it going to stop us dreaming when the games come around? Certainly not.
One things for sure; we’re having a party in the Champions League, and it already feels great.