So our three teams are known. We’re going to Prague, Milan and Lille.
This isn’t a bad draw overall; it could have been worse. It could also have been better. We know the favourites are going to be Milan although, perversely, they were a Pot 3 team. But this is the way the contest hast thrown teams up in this one.
I laughed when we got Lille. Should we be hoping they sign Morelos? That will blunt their forward line in advance of the game and will be good for a 50/50 on a red card.
The draw does this to us though; even in Pot 1 we can’t avoid a major side and a couple of banana skins. All three of these are winnable home games. None will be comfortable or easy, and if that’s the case for the home ties all three are exceptionally tricky away.
To get out of this group will require a huge effort.
Prague are the dark horses; as such I probably worry about them more than the other two sides. They are just the kind of team we underestimate and slip up against.
It’s the second year in a row we’ve gotten an Italian team and a French team in the pot. Last year we won the Group. This will be a different prospect. Milan are a good side even accounting for the fact that they’re not what they used to be. Lille have spent big money, so much of it in fact that they’re on the end of a UEFA FFP investigation.
One of their strikers is Timothy Weah. We all remember him for his six-month loan with the club, where he showed flashes of talent. Theirs is a young, vibrant and expensively assembled side. They are going to be different prospect from Rennes.
Milan wanted Kris Ajer before this window. They’re going to get a first chance look at him up close, and he’ll probably be facing off against Zlatan Ibrahimovi?, the ageing but still brilliant Swede who regards the King of Kings as his football hero.
Their side also boasts the wonderful talents of Samu Castillejo, Ismaël Bennacer and the on-loan midfielder Sandro Tonali, who they will probably end up buying. I mention him quite deliberately because the press will … he models his game on that of Gattuso but is a far, far better footballer even at 20 than that ned was ever going to be. Tonali has world class potential; it is going to be a thrill to watch him play against our footballers.
This is what fans want; games against really good teams. We say we’d have wanted an easy group – Sevco got an easy group – but in fact, you do want some glamour, you do want to see top players come to face you and you do want to see your team test itself against them.
We’re definitely going to get that.
Last night’s hard work pays off. We get a glamour group with some exciting games.
More of a challenge than some would have wanted, yes … but that’s football.
How well do you know the Days That Shook Celtic? Do our quiz below.