I bloody hate using Europa League graphic on these article.
But here we are again, and trying to reach the Groups.
The draw was today, and it wasn’t particularly troubling.
On paper at least, Celtic’s next European tie looks very straightforward. Latvia or San Marino.
What could be easier than that? Luxembourg?
A team from that neck of the woods knocked Sevco out of Europe not that long ago and might yet play them again in this campaign, so you take nothing for granted.
But this doesn’t look like a banana skin tie.
Football is not played on paper, of course.
Teams can surprise you, and it’s an away game and it only takes one of those days to be “one of those days” as we had in Gibraltar and it’s all over and your team comes home in disgrace.
Yet this doesn’t give off any bad vibes, and I got plenty of bad vibes from Ferencvaros, in particular as they had to knock out the Swedish champions, who most people agreed were going to give us a proper test.
We knew so little about them, and they come from one of those leagues which can’t be readily dismissed.
Those games always give me the fear.
Part of the problem here is that we tend towards blithely ignoring our buzzing nerve endings at times, and convince ourselves that some of these teams are beaten before they show up. Our best European results of last season were in those games where we took the opposition seriously and were more cautious in our approach as a result.
Neither of these opponents would require that.
They both look comfortably beatable. Which isn’t to say we can afford to disrespect them in any way.
But let’s be frank, losing to the Hungarian champions is one thing but losing to teams from these leagues is another thing entirely. To go out to one of these sides would be a Year Zero event and a lot of people would have to consider their positions at Celtic Park.
I really don’t believe for one second that we’ll have to face up to that scenario though.
We have a pretty secure path to the last qualifying round and this is a dangerous spot to be in because fail here or in that one and there’s no parachute if we screw it up.
For that reason alone we need to treat it with the utmost caution.
But really, there’s no obvious threat here.
Do the job profesisonally and we should progress comfortably.
Treat it the way we treated Ferencvaros … yeah, that’s when we have to worry about the outcome.
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