Tonight is a big night, although as I said in my piece for On Fields of Green it’s not as big as a lot of people are making out or will tomorrow morning.
Qualifying for the Champions League puts our club right back where it belongs, with the elite of European football, on the biggest stage of them all.
That’s why, over and above the financial rewards, it is important that we get there.
The path appears clear enough; go to Sweden tonight and just don’t lose.
It doesn’t really get simpler than that when you strip it right down.
The home side are a good team.
They aren’t a great team.
Their home record is impressive until you place it in the context of who they face every week and who they’ve played on the European stage.
When they’ve met genuine quality on their home turf they’ve been beaten … and we don’t even need to win, simply do what Ventspils of Latvia did last year and what Žalgiris Vilnius of Lithuania managed in the current campaign; a nice wee 0-0 draw and we’re there.
I think we’ll do better than that and win the match.
Let’s face it, if our players can’t get themselves up for this game, to give their all and put this one to bed, then perhaps the Hoops are too big for them.
Not only is there an incentive of playing against the best teams in the world, but the opposition have given us all the motivation players could ever need to go out and win a match.
Their mouthy manager claims things were “lost in translation”, but even the Scottish media didn’t have to spin the use of the word “pigs” to describe professional footballers.
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that this is an insult no matter what language it’s in or in whatever context it’s being used.
That they are now hopelessly trying to backtrack on those comments shows how fearful they are of us using them as the best motivational tool we could get.
And we should. Every player should.
Another area we ought to draw inspiration from is in the attitude of the hacks.
It almost defies belief that we, Scotland’s last European club, should be the targets of such unrelenting negative coverage from our own domestic media.
Last week, before STV had any visual footage of Celtic’s performance those who were inclined could go on their website and see Berget’s two goals.
This is but a taste of the kind of crap we’ve had to put up with, including a weekend of Keevins and others saying Ronny Deila will be on the road to the sack if we go out … as most of them fully expect us to.
There are exceptions, of course.
This writer has no love for Neil McCann, but he’s actually tipped us to win whereas the likes of Nicholas are saying we’re done for.
In short, our players do not have to look too hard or too far for their motivation; it is everywhere around them.
Full houses at Celtic Park with the biggest sides in the world visiting.
The glory and immortality of nights like Barcelona.
Financial rewards for them and for the club.
We know exactly what we have to do tonight and what is at stake.
For once, I don’t have to write 10,000 words when a handful will suffice.
Win, Celtic, just win.
Silence the mouths of Malmo and the hacks here at home.
Take your place on the stage on which you belong.
Do it Celts.
Just do it.