Celtic’s Next Six Matches – Champions League the Priority

After Celtic’s comprehensive 4-0 win over theRangers in the Glasgow Derby on Saturday, the Scottish Champions can look back with considerable satisfaction at the result and indeed the overall start that has been made in the first six league matches of the new campaign which has seen victories over Aberdeen, Hearts and theRangers at Celtic Park and away wins at Ross County, Kilmarnock and Dundee United.

With the Ibrox side dropping two points at Easter Road and losing at Celtic Park, the Hoops have opened up a five points lead at the top of the table.

Today we are going to look at the next six games for both Celtic and theRangers which will see three more cinch Premiership matches played around three challenging European fixtures for both Glasgow clubs participating in the Champions League Group stages this season and they also give Celtic supporters a chance to back our team at non GamStop bookmakers and perhaps share in success while also making a few bob forecasting the outcome of games played by our city rivals against Ajax, Napoli and Liverpool.

What is certain is that the next six games for both Glasgow clubs could hold the key to success on a domestic level as well as on the biggest stage in club football, the Champions League. For Giovanni van Bronckhorst they could also signal some real pressure as calls from theRangers supporters for him to be sacked started shortly after the final whistle on Saturday afternoon.

 Vinicius Junior celebrates after scoring the winning goal during the UEFA Champions League final match between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid at Stade de France on May 28, 2022 in Paris. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

First out of the stalls is the Scottish Champions, Celtic who kick-off their six-match challenge tomorrow evening at Celtic Park against the Champions of Europe, Real Madrid.

Can Celtic’s fast-flowing attacking football unsettle the kings of the European game? Will the Spanish giants play a cautious sit-in game-plan to counter the Celtic threat and will Carlo Ancelotti pay Celtic the ultimate compliment by altering his own playing style to counter what he witnessed at the weekend from Ange Postecoglou’s side against last season’s Europa League finalists?

Real Madrid’s French forward Karim Benzema poses with his “UEFA Men’s Player of the Year 2021/2022 Award” next to Real Madrid’s Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti posing with his “Coach of the Year Award” in Istanbul on August 25, 2022, after the 2022/2023 Champions League group stage draw. (Photo by OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images)

It’s going to be a tall order for Celtic to play their football and win the match against currently the best club side in world football but, as everyone now knows, there’s no Plan B under Postecoglou.

A Celtic victory tomorrow night will reverberate around the game globally, and that’s exactly what the crafty Australian manager is out to achieve. The last time Real Madrid came calling to Paradise was in the European Cup back in March 1980 and they left empty-handed that night with Celtic winning 2-0. Don’t be too surprised if history repeats itself tomorrow.

Next up for Celtic is another home match against Livingston at Celtic Park on Saturday afternoon, 10 September. This could have been a much more challenging fixture had it been away from home. In the League Cup win at Ross County last midweek, Ange Postecoglou made nine changes to the side that won 9-0 at Tannadice a few days before and the strength and depth of the Celtic squad was apparent throughout a comfortable 4-1 win.

James Forrest celebrates scoring during the Premier Sports Cup second round match at the Global Energy Stadium, Dingwall. Picture date: Wednesday August 31, 2022. Photo Trevor Martin (IMAGO).

Expect Celtic players not starting against Real Madrid to be tasked with picking up the three points against David Martindale’s side on Saturday and they are unlikely to miss the opportunity to impress their manager.

The third of Celtic’s six-match challenge sees them travel to Warsaw to face the Ukrainian Champions Shakhtar Donetsk at the Polish Army Stadium on Wednesday 14 September. This is a 3rd v 4th seed tie and logically it points to two sides battling to remain in European football beyond Christmas with a place in the Europa League group stages open to 3rd place finishers in the Champions League Groups.

Celtic though have loftier ambitions and regardless of what happened in the opening game against Real Madrid, Ange Postecoglou will know that it is crucial to get the better of Shakhtar. It could be a significant night in Celtic’s season if the Hoops return to Glasgow with three points in the bag.

Giorgos Giakoumakis celebrates scoring during the Premier Sports Cup second round match at the Global Energy Stadium, Dingwall. Wednesday August 31, 2022. Photo Trevor Martin

After playing in Warsaw Celtic face a much shorter trip, this time to Paisley on Sunday 18 September. St Mirren held Celtic to a goalless draw at the Simple Digital Arena last December just after Ange Postecoglou’s side had won the League Cup at Hampden beating Hibs in the final. And this time the Saints are restricting the size of the away support for reasons we have previously discussed on The Celtic Star. Again Ange Postecoglou will look to his squad for this game and you can expect a similar Celtic line-up to the side selected to face Livingston a week earlier. Again this team should get the job done and secure another win in the cinch Premiership for the Champions and league leaders.

With the international break bringing a lull to the club action for the next few weeks, Celtic return with a home match in the cinch Premiership on Saturday 1 October against Motherwell and home advantage should see Celtic conclude the three league games of the six matches with another three points.

Celtic v Rangers – cinch Premiership – David Turnbull celebrates scoring Celtic’s fourth goal of the game. Saturday September 3, 2022. Photo Steve Welsh

That takes us to Wednesday 5 October and a trip to Germany to play RB Leipzig. If Celtic have managed an away win in Warsaw against Shakhtar Donetsk, a draw against the Bundesliga side would be perfectly acceptable and would set Celtic up for a real shot at a place in the Champions League knock-out stages in the three reverse fixtures.

In summary, Celtic has three league matches that should at least maintain the 5-point gap and in doing so will keep the pressure mounting across the city. And with the wider Celtic squad carrying the burden in these league games against Livingston, St Mirren and Motherwell, Ange Postecoglou will be able to concentrate key players on the Champions League where 4 points from away games against Shakhtar Donetsk and RB Leipzig would set up a thrilling second half to the group stages.

Real Madrid tomorrow night is a free hit really, but that won’t stop Celtic going all out for the win.

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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