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Things aren’t exactly looking rosy in the green half of Glasgow, are they? And in a city where the other half’s results mean almost as much as your own, things are doubling down for Celtic right now. They lost their opening Scottish Premiership game for the first time since 1997 and if that’s not bad enough, they were dumped out of the Champions League qualifiers by Midtjylland over two legs.
It’s been a rocky start for a manager that won’t be able to summon this inner sense of what it means to be Celtic like previous managers had done – Neil Lennon’s incredible knack of winning games he had no right to in Europe certainly helped his cause – and now it’s a real uphill battle.
Thursday 16:45: Jablonec v Celtic
BBC Scotland/BBC iPlayer
It seems fortunate, then, that they’ve been landed with a favourable draw in the Europa League qualifiers. Or does it? In fact, a loss here combined with another uninspiring performance on the domestic front will set Ange Postecoglou up for an air of uncertainty going forward.
This isn’t just a must-win for Celtic; it’s a must-perform-and-win-comfortably. And that kind of pressure this early in a job is far from stable. Here’s a bet builder ahead of a night that’s bigger than it should be.
The below picks in a Paddy Power Bet Builder will give you odds of around 17/1. CLICK HERE TO ADD IT TO YOUR BETSLIP.
Ultimately, this test is just a touch too easy for any major shock and Celtic have enough experience in their ranks to not play that far below themselves here. The Danish challenge was one of actual merit – a nation who are clearly seeing the benefit at both club and international level – and was always going to be tougher than envisaged. But this? No, it should really be a straightforward job.
But the issue, as we saw against Hearts, is Celtic are a number of weeks away from their stall being set up. When a new manager comes in, particularly one taking the place of a long-term pillar, the first thing to be shaky is the defensive shape. That’s from communication in general play, to spacing when playing out and particularly from set-pieces. There are frailties and they’re unavoidable really.
In a way, that’s going to be Celtic’s biggest challenge here. How do they respond to the heat being put on them early?
By the time the half-time whistle goes, there’s a fair chance that Celtic will need a stern chat in the dressing room at the break. What comes of this will be the first big test of the new gaffer’s mettle. He could easily cower and realise the reliance in the past was on strong-minded figures in both coaching staff and the players. But chances are, they’ll prevail after a quick home truth or two is spread.
More so than in the league, you always find your best players produce in the European moments you really need them. Edouard has done that time and time again – and there’s a few wondering why he’s even still plying his trade in Scotland. But his form in the last while has been shaky and now there’s a doubt. Given the severe lack of goals in behind him, I can’t help but think this is when he’ll show his true colours.
Celtic to Win
Both Teams to Score
Half-Time: The Draw
Odsonne Edouard to Score Anytime
These picks in a Paddy Power Bet Builder will give you odds of around 17/1. CLICK HERE TO ADD IT TO YOUR BETSLIP.
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