Celtic can’t allow Shakhtar Donetsk open a six points gap in Warsaw

The Champions League is back and as far as Group F is concerned the opening round of matches has thrown up numerous talking points, perhaps leaving the supporters of three clubs relishing what’s ahead with perhaps one set of fans crying in their beer as a misable start to the season goes from bad to worse.

Top seeds and current European Champions got a major fright in the East End of Glasgow before doing what Celtic had failed to do in taking their chances which for the vistors came in the later stages of a thrilling match. Celtic, backed by an incredible support, had the better of the first half and Liel Abada will be rueing his weak effort when through on Courtois in the visitors goal.

Glasgow, Scotland, 6th September 2022. Toni Kroos of Real Madrid and Celtic captain Callum McGregor during the UEFA Champions League Group F match at Celtic Park, Photo Neil Hanna / Sportimage

Celtic’s Captain Callum McGregor came closest to breaking the deadlock in a high tempo first half as the Scottish Champions matched the Spanish giants all over the pitch. McGregor’s thunderous strike from the edge of the box smashed against the goalpost with Courtois rooted to the spot. Then early in the second half Josip Juranovic fired in a brilliant low cross for Diazen Maeda, who had replaced Abada at the interval, but with any decent connection likely to open the scoring the Japan international couldn’t get his feet sorted quickly enough and a glorious chance was lost.

How Real Madrid made Celtic pay for these missed opportunities with goals from Vini Jr on 56 minutes, Luka Modric with an hour played and Real substitute Eden Hazard after 76 minutes.

For Celtic it was a case of what might have been but on the other hand this was also something of a free hit for Celtic and Real are likely to have acheived their aim of winning the group before the two sides meet again in the Spanish captial.

In the other match on Group F, second seeds RB Leipzig played host to third seeds Shakhtar Donetsk and the 4-1 away win was certainly a result that few would have foreseen, with the added intrigue of the former Celtic winger Maria Shved scoring two of the goals, including the opener that the Leipzig’s Hungarian goalkeeper Peter Gulasci laying the opener on a plate for Shved.

The Ukrainian Champions then sat back to defend their advantage but were undone when Mohamed Simakan hammered home for Leipzig on 57 minutes. However the joy was shortlived, this time a deflected shot by Shved gave him his second with the unfortunate Gulasci helpless. As the Bundeliga side puched hard for another equaliser in the closing stages they were hit with two sucker punches with Mykhailo Mudryk scoring on 76 minutes and Lassina Franck adding a fourth shortly before the end.

Shakhtar Donetsk pose for a team photo following their side’s victory in the UEFA Champions League group F match between RB Leipzig and Shakhtar Donetsk at Red Bull Arena on September 06, 2022 in Leipzig, Germany. (Photo by Cathrin Mueller/Getty Images)

In the aftermath to all of that RB Leigzip parted company with their manager Domenico Tedesco and his entire coaching staff, including former Celtic defender Andreas Hinkel with Marco Rose coming in as the new Leipzig coach. He’ll face a tough challange with Dortmund visting the Red Bull Arena on Saturday before the trip to Spain to take on the European Champions Real Madrid, who will be strong favouties to follow up their win in Glasgow with by securing another three points against RB Leipzig in the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.

That would leave the German side pointless ahead of a double header with Celtic, who on the same night take on Shakhtar Donetsk in the Polish captial, Warsaw. For the Ukranian Champions, who face a double header against Real Madrid in matchdays three and four, this match with home advantage of sorts, will be a tremendous opportunity to put a significant six points advantage between themselves and both Celtic an Leipzig and then hope that this two take points off each other in the head to heads.

Shakhtar Donetsk celebrate after the UEFA Champions League Group F football match RB Leipzig v FC Shakhtar Donetsk in Leipzig, eastern Germany, on September 6, 2022. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP) 

Celtic on the other hand probably put in the most impressive performance of the four sides last night with Carlo Ancelotti admitting that Ange Postecoglou’s side had him worried during that incredible first half in the East end of Glasgow.

Celtic will look to bring that form to Warsaw on Wednesday and hope that they can handle the partisan atmophere as Poles and Ukraines united in support of Shakhtar. Postecoglou said last night that he was determined to make progress in the Champions League and will know that winning in the Polish Army Stadium will make that a realistic prospect as Celtic ould be on level points with a Shakhtar that has two games with Real Madrid up next. If you are looking for free sports betting picks for these and all the other European games across Champions League, Europa League and Conference League games check out Picks for Tonight where their computer model picks every game.

Ange Postecoglou, Manager of Celtic looks on during the UEFA Champions League group F match between Celtic FC and Real Madrid at Celtic Park Stadium on September 06, 2022. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

It’s still early days in the Champions League but the path to the knockout rounds could become much clearer on Wednesday night depending on the outcome of the Shakhtar Donetsk v Celtic match. Losing to Real Madrid is one thing but if Celtic have genuine ambitions to re-establish themselves at this level then this is a match they can’t afford to lose.

Highlights from both of last night’s Group F matches are shown below…

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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