Before the games in this group kicked off, we pondered what a “win” looked like in terms of our points target.
Most of us agreed that nine or ten points should be enough to get us across the line. We knew there would be tough games against Rennes away, the two Lazio matches and possibly the game over in Romania, and we knew three points out of the first six was essential.
Four points from the first six is what we’ve achieved. The Rennes away tie has been successfully negotiated.
The first win at home is in the bank.
We are nearly halfway to our stated goal.
The thing is, this is where things get very tricky.
Lazio are up next, home and away. They are still smarting from losing to Cluj and last night they had to mount a comeback against Rennes after being a goal down. That shows they’ve got vulnerabilities which we can exploit. But it also shows they’ve got some game.
The first game is at Celtic Park of course, which gives us a real opportunity.
We should be aiming for nothing less than three points, taking us to seven, leaving us on the brink. If Rennes lose to Cluj then they’re effectively out of it and coming to visit us later in the contest with nothing but pride to play for, and that would suit us right down to the ground.
If that confluence of events sends us to Rome atop the group, seven points out of nine, and with Rennes virtually out of it, a single point would be a magical result and I think fans could start looking forward to the next round. It’s a big ask, taking four points against Lazio.
Three points – from the home game – would be excellent though … it would pretty much do it for us, with us requiring only two or perhaps three points from the last three matches. We’d go through with ten points, I reckon.
Let’s picture a bad scenario where we settle for one point out of six … a draw at home. A lot will depend on what happens in the Cluj-Rennes double headers … but you can see circumstances with we need a win and a draw from the last two matches.
But we’re more than capable of getting those results, and thus the nine points to take us through. A win in either game, Rennes at home or against Cluj away, would do it … and on our form of the moment I think we secure wins in both of those games.
A win against Lazio at home in the next round pretty much removes the pressure from us. If we secure that it’s going to take a minor disaster for us not to qualify … and I think qualification from this group would be a huge achievement considering Lennon is just bedding this squad in. More than that, it would be give the whole club great confidence for not only the rest of this season but for the tricky Champions League qualifiers in the next one.
That was a great result last night … I think we’re in a really good place here.
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