In what has been a disappointing week for Celtic, the hoops are back in action with a place in the Europa League up for grabs.
Swedish champions AIK travel to Glasgow in the play off, with Celtic an unusual wounded animal after the Champions League came to an abrupt end last week against Cluj and then scraping a win against Dunfermline on Saturday in the League Cup.
A lot of fans have spoken in disparaging terms of UEFA’s second tournament. However a good run would be beneficial to Celtic, not least for co-efficient points up for grabs.
In 2002/03 season, Celtic suffered Champions League heartbreak after being knocked out against Basel. This turned into a wonderful season as Celtic reached their first European final since 1970, beating some good teams on the way.
Do I see a repeat?
In short, no! The players in that team are a far cry from what is there now, with the exception of one or two. However could Celtic beat AIK and have some decent games in the Europa League? Most definitely. A last 32 spot wouldnt be beyond expectation.
The problem at the moment is morale seems to have taken a hit. Defensively the team are not functioning, too many players been moved on and not having had a settled back four has been evident.
With Neil Lennon saying the club are working to add three or four players, nothing more than is needed, then Celtic could have a decent Europa level team.
AIK will travel to Glasgow buoyed by Celtic’s recent displays. Like Celtic they started off in the Champions League, they knocked out Avan Acadmey 4-3 on aggregate, going down 2-1 away from home.
In the next round they were eliminated by Maribor on away goals, after drawing 4-4 over both legs. Again they went down 2-1 away from home. In the last round of the Europa they knocked out Moldovan side Sheriff 3-2 on aggregate, this time they recorded a 2-1 win away.
AIK seemed to struggle away from home. Let’s hope they dont rectify this at Celtic Park.
Prediction Celtic 2-1 AIK
Mick Kane hails from Glasgow. He has been hooked on Celtic since he went to his first game when he was 7. Celtic beat Hamilton 8-3 at Celtic Park on the 3rd of January 1987. His favourite player at the time, Brian McClair scored four goals.
He started going regular as a 16 year old when Celtic played at Hampden for the season, being a Southsider it meant a short train journey to get to Hampden. From then he has had a season ticket travelled around Europe for games as Celtic became the dominant force in Scottish football again. A nice change from growing up during Rangers run to 9 in a row.