Tomorrow’s Champions League draw will be exciting because we’re in it.
Otherwise it would be one of those things I just didn’t bother with at all.
I never watch it when we’re not present. In the course of the tournament I will watch individual games, of course, and somewhere along the line I’ll get caught up in the drama of it, but I won’t be overly concerned one way or the other.
The Champions League is a lesser tournament without us.
Everyone knows this.
Celtic Park is one of the great European football arenas.
When the ground is in full swing there’s really nowhere else like it.
As far as the draw goes, there are various permutations. We can still make Pot 3 if Liverpool exit the competition tonight, which looks highly improbable. If we discount that, as we probably should, we’re left in our usual position; facing a potential Group of Death.
But you know what?
We’d have been in that position anyway.
We could be facing anything from that Group of Death scenario to one which is altogether easier to navigate.
Here’s the sort of one we don’t want, or maybe we do;
Real Madrid, Paris St Germain, Tottenham.
Glamour ties all. Difficult to win.
The money would be nice, the status too, but that’s a group we might not finish third in.
Last year, I famously asked for the toughest possible test, and to the horror of many (myself included) we got exactly that.
This year? Honestly, I’d prefer something a little more sedate, like this one; Spartak Moscow, Porto and Olympiakos.
That group could come out tomorrow. I don’t think it will, but it’s not impossible.
Shakhtar Donetsk have made Pot 1 because of the strange vagaries of a draw which guarantees one team from each of UEFA’s top eight countries a slot in Pot 1 (or we would automatically be in Pot 3 as Spartak Moscow are so far behind us in co-efficient terms they ought not to be there) and has Barcelona in Pot 2. So we could get them.
Pot 1 also has Monaco and Benfica in there.
One of those from that pot would be nice, and I would settle for it.
You can start to assemble your dream group from there.
There are five English clubs in the tournament right now; Liverpool should win tonight to wrap that up, and seal our Pot 4 place. The way the competition works they cannot be drawn against one another and that, it seems to me, virtually assures us a game against an EPL side. The Manchester teams, the Anfield side and two London clubs all wait for us. I would take a trip to our brothers and sisters at Liverpool; I do not want Chelsea.
Nor do I want another match-up with Barcelona. How many more times, for goodness sake? Give us something a little different this time, although knowing our luck different will mean Paris St Germain from the Pot 2 teams.
The important thing is to be taking part here at all; for those who want to torture themselves with dreams of high profile matches, or scare themselves silly with the same, here’s the way the groups have shaken themselves out.
As you can see, there’s no guarantee that a Pot 3 place would have made our lives one iota easier … it is what it is.
Pot 1: Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Juventus, Benfica, Monaco, Spartak Moscow, Shakhtar Donetsk
Pot 2: Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, PSG, Borussia Dortmund, Sevilla, Manchester City, Porto, Manchester United
Pot 3: Napoli, Tottenham, Basel, Olympiakos, Anderlecht, Liverpool, Roma, Besiktas
Pot 4: Celtic, CSKA Moscow, Copenhagen, Sporting Lisbon, APOEL Nicosia, Feyenoord, Maribor, RB Leipzig