Well you could not have asked for better, could you?
We got the sexy games we wanted, against top clubs, which is the reason fans want us at this level in the first place.
The Celtic players will be tested against some of the finest footballers on the planet, including the world’s most expensive signing, at two mammoth clubs, Paris St Germain and Bayern Munich. And on top of that, we’re meeting an old friend in Anderlecht.
And there’s where the opportunity lies. Because along with the glitz and the glamour and the bling there is a gleam of hope for us this year, a hope that we can shock one of the top sides at home and that we can do enough against the Belgian’s to secure a qualifying spot.
It will be hard. It will be murderously hard.
The games in Munich and Paris will be especially fraught, and those teams will show no mercy.
If you’ve watched PSG of late you will know that even before the Neymar circus rolled into town they were a superlative footballing unit, capable of unlocking any side in the world. On their own little patch of land they fundamentally dismantled, and destroyed, Barcelona last year before that incredible tie in the Camp Nou … a tie that was won, almost single-handedly, by the guy they then went out and signed. Alongside Rabiot, Pastore, Cavani, Di Maria, Draxler and Verratti … they are an awesome team.
We’re facing the very best here.
Bayern Munich need no introduction either.
There is no such thing as a weak or a bad Bayern Munich team. There never has been, and probably never will be. Their consistency is incredible. Their performance levels are always high. Their professionalism is second to none in the game. The great names in their squad roll off the tongue, from Ancelotti in the dugout to Rodriguez, Muller, Robben, Ribery, Lewandowski, Douglas Costa and Kornan … it’s mind-boggling to think these guys will be coming to Celtic Park.
Anderlecht are less well known, but this is a thoroughly competent, difficult to beat team who have great consistency and hail from a country producing more technically gifted players than just about anywhere else in Europe. One of the guys we’ll be coming up against will be a familiar name; Henry Onyekuru, who was linked with all the way through the tail-end of last season and who ended up at Everton, but farmed out to the Belgians on loan.
They will not be easy opponents … but they are beatable ones.
And in a competition like this, that’s all you can really hope for; to stand a chance of getting points and getting out of the group.
Look, the odds are stacked against us; not as heavily, perhaps, as they were last year but they are still long-shot “shoot for the moon” numbers. At home we can give anyone a fright, but we are going to need one Hell of a big performance in Belgium to stand a chance.
This is what we wanted though, folks.
This is how it feels to be Celtic.
As we have grown as a side and now prepare to welcome some of the best footballers on Earth to our stadium and get ready to test ourselves at the very highest level, others prepare for Coronation Street and Holby City and have made no Progres at all.