“With Celtic’s best XI they can give each of these teams a game,” Gordon Strachan

Gordon Strachan knows a thing or two about achieving Group stage success in the Champions League with Celtic and the former manager reckons that with hard work and being up for the battles that lie ahead a Celtic starting XI at full strength can give the other sides in the group a run for their money.

Strachan’s first season as Celtic manager didn’t feature much European football, although the come-back of all time was so nearly achieved. After that season, which Matt Corr brilliantly captures in his new book ‘Majic, Stan and the King of Japan’ which is out on 20th October on Celtic Star Books,  Strachan had an outstanding record at guiding his Celtic sides through the group stages and into the knockout rounds on two occasions.

So he is a man worth listening to when it comes to considering what Brendan Rodgers and his players have to do to stay in the Champions League beyond Christmas.

“What Celtic need to do to give themselves a chance in the Champions League is to somehow pick up that big result against Atletico Madrid because they are probably the best side in the group,” Strachan reckons.

As reported by Glasgow Times, he expands on his point, referencing the recent Scotland win over Spain and how that looks like going a long way to seeing Scotland qualify for Euro2024.

“In many ways, it’s a little bit like Scotland; we got the big result against Spain in the European qualifiers. To get through these group stages, you need to get a big result against one of the biggest teams and, if it is the best team, then you’re giving yourself a brilliant chance of being in the draw for the last 16,” Strachan said.

The newly appointed manager of Celtic, Gordon Strachan, poses following a press conference announcing his new position, May 31, 2005 (Photo by Getty Images)

“It is going to be a tough test. They will need all of their best players back, fit, and available – I do think that with Celtic’s best XI they can give each of these teams a game,” he added.

“There isn’t a team in the group like Manchester City, Real Madrid or even Arsenal. Atletico Madrid and Lazio are hard-working, disciplined teams,” the former Celtic manager stated. “I don’t think we’ll see spectacular games of football because of the opponents. Atletico Madrid are experts at wearing teams down, grinding teams down.

Celtic v Dundee – Celtic players celebrate on the pitch after the cinch Premiership match at Celtic Park, Saturday September 16, 2023. Photo Andrew Milligan

“Lazio are the same. Celtic like to play football, but against those two teams the players need to go into them with an understanding that they are going to be hard fought battles. It will be hard work to beat them because of the way they set-up. They just need to get something out of them.”

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor David Faulds 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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