The fear of Celtic cracking it at Champions League level terrifies them

You’ve got to agree with every word written by Chris Sutton in his newspaper column this morning as the former Celtic striker calls out the  hacks and pundits, North and South of the border who are happy to lump Celtic’s European exploits this season in with the rest of the Scottish teams who have all – from Motherwell, to Dundee United, Hearts to theRangers all endured disastrous campaigns with no shortage of humiliating results both at home and away, with perhaps the most embarrassing being the 7-1 thrashing from Liverpool at Ibrox.

The scoreboard displaying the final score is seen during the UEFA Champions League group A match between Rangers FC and Liverpool FC at Ibrox Stadium on October 12, 2022 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Celtic on the other hand have taken the games to Real Madrid, RB Leipzig and Shakhtar Donetsk and while in a results based business, as Sutton notes, they have still come up short, there are many positives from the manner in which Celtic approached the Champions League campaign that are praiseworthy and should show longer term benefits for a Celtic squad where only a few players – Hart, McGregor, Forrest and Giakoumakis – had any Champions League experience prior to this season.

Celtic haven’t been in the Champions League for five years and even back then it was the same old sorry story, one that Postecoglou has set out to change. Those hammerings from PSG and Barcelona still are hard to take and it’s worth reflecting that this is where theRangers currently find themselves now.

It looked like no Scottish club could ever compete in the Champions League again but under Ange Postecoglou Celtic have hope while across the city there is only despair as theRangers are one defeat away from securing all sorts of unwanted records as the worst ever side to perform in the Champions League Group stages.

“I’m not running around throwing flowers at Celtic because, at the end of the day, they will finish bottom of Group F. They have come up short. Football is a results business and, if you don’t get them, it is right that performances are scrutinised and displays analysed,” Sutton stated in his Daily Record column.

“That’s the problem. I don’t see much analysis. People are generalising Scottish football and just lumping results all into one bracket. Wrong. Coming out with phrases like disaster and humiliating for all. It is lazy and it is stupid. I’m hearing pundits south of the border making statements about the Scottish game being fourth tier and it’s just plain ignorance,” Sutton argued.

“Postecoglou is trying to implement a style and adopt a positive approach that can make Celtic better in Europe now and the future. He said they were going to try and play their way and they have done so.

“Fair enough, they are out, but you cannot seriously tell me they have been outclassed, or out of their depth, or been cannon fodder? Could you look at any of the five performances that Postecoglou’s team have put up and called them a disaster? Or a nightmare?

 Giorgos Giakoumakis (unseen) celebrates with teammates after scoring his team first goal during the UEFA Champions League Group F football match between Celtic FC and Shakhtar Donetsk, at the Celtic Park October 25, 2022.(Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

“If you do, if you match them up and lazily stick them in the same basket with Rangers’ weak performance in Amsterdam, or lack of ambition at Anfield, or capitulation at home to Liverpool, or Motherwell losing to Sligo, Dundee United’s seven in Alkmaar, you either didn’t watch the games or you don’t have the first clue about football.

“The improvements in Celtic since Postecoglou took over are stark. They were an absolute shambles in the Europa League the year before he took over. Last season’s effort offered signs of what he was trying to do and they have been brave enough to take it into the bigger stage.

“Fine margins. That’s what it is. You can’t expect to go into the competition with a fresh batch of players and set the world alight. It is going to take time, but the key is to put the right things in place. Stay true to the beliefs and build from there.”

Ange Postecoglou, Manager of Celtic, Celtic FC and Shakhtar Donetsk on October 25, 2022.(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Listen, Celtic can’t be happy with just two points from 15 but there’s been more than enough to suggest that Ange Postecoglou is on course to make Celtic competitive at Champions League level. Let’s just assume for a moment Celtic had taken our chances against Real Madrid and won rather than drawn the two games against Shakhtar and were on the verge of progressing to the knock-out rounds. That would have made the terrible and embarrassing performances from theRangers even worse for them.

Celtic know what they want to do, win the league and get back into the Champions league for another crack at it, this time with a squad all the better for the lessons of this year. But what about the Ibrox outfit? If they get back into the Group stages what are they going to do differently so that they can compete?

Postecoglou appears to have found an answer for Celtic but there seems little sign of that happening in Govan. That’s got to be a huge concern for them and it’s one that their supporters understand. And the fear of Celtic cracking it at Champions League level terrifies them.

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

1 Comment

  1. It might be worth mentioning that Hearts have won two games in European competition this season, both against an outfit roughly equivalent to the mighty Bodo Glimt – remember them? Hearts have therefore at least done something this season to enhance the country’s coefficient. As have another team representing Scotland.
    Let’s not get carried away.