Celtic’s biggest match this week is Sunday’s SPFL match against Aberdeen at Paradise. The gap at the top has been reduced to four points and victory could see us pile pressure on the current champions, who face a tricky trip to play on the plastic pitch at Livingston. However, before the weekend’s league duties take place, the Bhoys visit Bayer Leverkusen in the Europa League.
Since meeting the German giants in September, Celtic have won eight out of nine matches. Two of those wins came against Ferencvaros in Europe and one came in the Premier Sports Cup Semi-Final. Although the league is our priority, it goes without saying that the victories achieved in other competitions have brought a confidence to the team and helped the players to push on in their quest for the title. It is for this reason that the Europa League fixture should not be overlooked on Thursday.
There’s a feel good factor around Celtic Park today. Ange Postecoglou is just 90 minutes away from his first trophy as Celtic manager, the team haven’t lost in two months, and there is a strong belief that the title race is on. In short, the monumental rebuild in front of the manager in July has been undertaken with a level of speed and success which has exceeded all of our expectations.
If Postecoglou’s men can defeat Leverkusen in Germany then that euphoria will flow into the weekend. What a boost it’d give the team ahead of a crucial league contest. Furthermore, it would ensure that Celtic still have an outside chance of qualification from the Europa League group in December.
It may be bizarre to be talking about the possibility of beating Leverkusen with any optimism, given that they thumped us 4-0 at Paradise in the reverse fixture. They remain a top outfit and will be the favourites; however, the Germans have won just three of nine matches following their rout in Glasgow. They look vulnerable at present.
Arminia 0-4 Leverkusen, Leverkusen 1-5 Bayern Munich, Real Betis 1-1 Leverkusen, Koln 2-2 Leverkusen, Leverkusen 1-2 Karlsruher, Leverkusen 0-2 Wolfsburg, Leverkusen 4-0 Real Betis, Hertha 1-1 Leverkusen, Leverkusen 1-0 Bochum.
Celtic will go for broke – it’s the only way Postecoglou instructs his teams to play. It might just work in our favour and lift us to new heights. Whatever happens, Aberdeen is our priority but a historic result in Germany could act as a superb springboard.