The football never really left, but at the same time, I’m more than willing to pretend that it’s ‘back’ because the European qualifiers are back in full swing.
Well, at least the sh*te leagues are. All the doldrums of European football are featuring this week – some absolute footballing wastelands such as Gibraltar, Bosnia, Norway and even Scotland. Not sure whoever it was that allowed the SPL send representation in UEFA competitions, but I’m fairly confident they’re regretting it now.
Luckily for them, they’ve been handed draws against absolute nobodies and should stroll into the next round of qualifying without any trouble.
Or should they?
It might be hard to comprehend, but Neil Lennon was the man who guided Celtic to their most famous win in Europe outside of Lisbon, and nobody is worse suited to the long-term success of the club while also being the perfect coach to motivate them on the biggest nights.
But this isn’t a big night.
Brendan Rodgers is gone to Leicester and so is his brand of football that would be quick enough to break down sides like Sarajevo and tear them asunder by the time this game got back to Glasgow.
But this version of Celtic are slightly different.
I don’t doubt they’ll qualify from the tie because the second leg will be deemed a big deal if this game is hanging in the balance, and I suspect it probably will be.
Celtic will be scoring in Sarajevo. You can bet your life on it, but that’s out of sheer firepower. Defensively, they’ll lose focus and despite the clichés that are always present around these matches, it won’t be an easy place to go, especially in early July when you’re miles away from peak fitness.
The handicap here is set to three, and you know – I think Rangers will cover it, too.
I’m unsure whether or not people know this, but Gibraltar as a football nation only ever lent themselves to further condemning Martin O’Neill’s tactical approach to the game. If you’re not playing Ireland, then there’s no hope. It’s bad enough to be Lincoln Red Imps, but St. Joseph’s aren’t even the best team in Gibraltar.
In fact, they weren’t even the second best team in Gibraltar – they finished 11 points behind the Red Imps and scored 15 goals less than the top two. This may be one of those cases where people argue as to the merits of even pitting these sides against each other.
Steven Gerrard isn’t the type of bloke to let the lads grab a tan and then waltz into work. This will be a complete and utter demolition job if they’re forced to make it be so. And you can bet your life they will be.
A £/€1 double on these two selections returns £/€5.50 including stake.
Odds correct at time of posting. Subject to change.