Tonight We’re On The Big Stage. No Domestic Game Comes Close To It.

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When Brendan Rodgers was appointed manager, it was nights like tonight that I was thinking about.

Forget games between ourselves and the domestic opposition – oh I was looking forward to those too; after two years of turgid football I couldn’t wait to see us play exciting attacking football again – it was these sort of games that got the juices flowing, the blood pumping, the excitement at high levels.

This is the best club competition in the world and there isn’t one of us who doesn’t savour every single sweet second that we spend in it.

The Barcelona match in Spain, that was one I never expected us to get anything from.

I watched that in interest more than anticipation or expectation. The City game, I was in Spain for that one and the build-up to it was tempered by holiday preparations and my decision that I would enjoy the game as a spectacle come what may.

Of course, it turned out to be a lot more than that. By the end of it I felt wrung out, but proud as Hell that my team had gone toe to toe with one of the biggest in football and come out of it looking like equals, looking like we belonged there.

Some of the football that night was exhilarating; there’s no other word for it.

The Germans come to town tonight; this match could define the rest of the Group for us. Going through to the next round of this competition may be a stretch – I think we’ll need to beat Barcelona at home or City away to make that prospect real, as well as winning home and away against our opponents tonight – but a win against Monchengladbach at Celtic Park will open wide the doors to the Europa League knockout phase.

I find myself nervous about this one, because the way we’re playing it’s a game I think we’ve got a right good chance of winning and it’s a match of massive importance and consequence. Yeah league games are important in their own right, cup games too, especially if you are chasing a treble, but these nights are special and the results of them, and the performances, enhance our reputation in a way no domestic triumph can.

The City game is still being talked about across Europe.

The German players talked about it, and us, with real respect yesterday at the press conferences. One of them said that players will be attracted to our club on the strength of the Celtic Park atmosphere and on the way we play football, and he’s right, of course.

Money will factor into that too, of course, but that’s the beauty of this, because our participation in this contest will net us plenty of that.

I am a bag of nerves over this game, I really am, but they are the good kind. I can’t wait for the first whistle to blow and from six o’clock onward tonight I’ll be thinking about nothing else all the way to the kick-off.

Because this is why Brendan is here, why Sinclair and Dembele and Toure were signed.

It’s why the board pushed out the boat and why the fans came flocking back to Paradise. This is sexy, this is high adrenaline, this is the eyes of the continent on Celtic Park, it’s a chance to find out how far we’ve already come.

Nothing is better than this.

No game we’ll play here in Scotland comes close.

This is the stage we belong on, the one that will define us and our future.

In Brendan We Trust.

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