As the Europa League gets underway right now, I have to say that we have a chance in this Group you know.
It won’t be easy – there are difficult games to come – but it’s not impossible. Lennon was right to say, yesterday, that our advantage lies in the way other teams will cut each other’s throats … and if we play well there’s a window for us to get through.
The question is, how many points would be enough?
We’ve gotten out of Champions League Groups with nine points on several occasions.
We got out of the Europa League Group we were in last year with the same.
Let’s use nine points as the baseline, then, the target we need to achieve.
Of course, that’s doable. Win the three home games and it’s done.
Beat Cluj home and away and you only need a win from either Rennes at home or Lazio. If you assume the Italians will be too strong – it is a long time since we had a home record which justified confidence in that arena – then you’d think the French were your best bet … if we can take a point tonight it’s there to be won, and with ten points potentially up for grabs instead of nine.
A point tonight gets us off to a very good start. A defeat isn’t a disaster, because we have two home matches in a row after this, with Cluj and Lazio … a draw tonight and a win to Cluj would really put us on our way. Any kind of result in the Lazio game and we’d have one Hell of a chance.
The maths will depend on what the other teams do to each other.
I don’t reckon Cluj are a great side, and I expect both Rennes and Lazio to deal with as a matter of routine. I couldn’t honestly pick a winner between them; I’ll be watching, closely, what happens with their first tie next week as we’re playing the grudge match against the Romanians.
Because that could be really important.
This is a big job we’ve got here. Any kind of result tonight is a great start, and with two home games coming up next it’s a superb foundation to build on.
Nine points. It’s not insurmountable and although we’ve got good teams in this group we’ve gotten out of better ones … last season’s was one of them, you only have to look at how the two Red Bull teams did last night in the Champions League.
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