In many ways, tomorrow night’s game has come at the perfect time. We’re top of the league and the defeat at home to the same side is the only defeat we’ve suffered since the season began. We’ve been impressive home and away, in Europe and domestically.
Since we took part in that match at home, in the Champions League, we’ve played ten times. We’ve won eight and drawn two, the away games in Rennes and at Easter Road. We’ve scored twenty-four goals during that run, scoring in every match.
This team is ready for this game. You can tell we are. The whole club is buzzing for it, for the chance to show that we’re better than we played last time. Every player has a point to prove. The manager himself has a point to prove.
There will be no crazy experimental tactics this time; our approach to the game will be straightforward. Our best eleven will be on the pitch. Everyone will be keen to set the record straight. Parkhead will be full. The air will be humming with noise and passion.
I am excited for this one. I know the Europa League isn’t everyone’s cup of tea – and I personally don’t have any affection for the tournament – but I am up for this one as I’m sure everyone at Celtic Park is up for it. And we need to win the three points.
There is a lot of talk that we’re going up against one of our targets tomorrow – if he’s fit. I never thought it likely that we were pursuing a deal for Billel Omrani, and when the draw was made a slim chance passed over into no chance at all.
He will have a point to prove though; he will want to do well. We have to be on our guard against that, and against him. I think we will be. Our defence will look very different to last time, with players like Jullien coming into their own. McGregor will play central midfield and there may even be room alongside him for Olivier Ntcham.
As Lennon says, we’re in a different place … and in some ways a different team.
I don’t think they’ll know what hits them.
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