It’s true that if you want to win competitions that you need to beat the best teams at some point, but that doesn’t mean you should be hoping to meet them early in the competition.
Celtic have already secured their place as a seeded side in next week’s Europa League draw, so it’s a good chance to have a look at who they could face and figure out what draw might be the most preferable.
Obviously at this stage there isn’t an easy draw, but some teams could be more difficult than others. Plenty of things could still change this week but here’s a look at who the fans should hope to face:
A trip to Cyprus in late February is never a bad thing, especially if it’s to face a team that currently sits fourth in the table. A look at the squad represents a list of journeymen players who have had decent careers, but they haven’t been good enough to hold down a spot in a better European League. This would represent the easiest draw of the lot.
The Austrian side wouldn’t be an easy game by any stretch, they’ve gone toe-to-toe with Salzburg in the league and have had some mightily impressive results, beating PSV and coming close to progressing past Club Brugge for a Champions League group spot. They are one of those teams who could lose some key players in January so it could be a good draw if they are weakened and start to drop off.
The Portuguese side would usually be a team to avoid at this stage, but their results against the Rangers show there isn’t a great deal to be scared of here. They’ve had some poor results and are heavily reliant on an ageing Pepe in defence who is easily exploited with some pace. They would represent a tough test, but one that’s very winnable.
Unfortunately teams from the same country can’t draw each other at this stage so there’s no chance of getting the Rangers if they do manage to qualify. There are also some tough teams like Roma, Frankfurt, Leverkusen and Wolves who could lie in wait, but it will be worth checking the full list again after this week to see if anything does change.