What can Celtic fans realistically expect from the Champions League campaign?

Celtic’s European ambitions this season have been a key talking point amongst supporters ever since Brendan Rodgers returned to Celtic Park earlier in the summer.

Many fans believed it was the only stone Rodgers left unturned in his first tenure at the club, which harvested two Champions League group appearances (finishing third and fourth), as well as two Europa League Round of 32 departures at the hands of Zenit Saint Petersburg and Valencia.

Rumours of a £30million war-chest had fans speculating even further but, as we have seen from Celtic’s summer business, these claims proved to be unsubstantiated.

Hoops supporters were fearing the worst at one point but a derby win, following a favourable European draw, has fans dreaming again.

It must be reiterated that Celtic’s group stage draw isn’t easy, it’s far from it. However, considering the likes of Manchester City, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain were all in the mix, Celtic definitely got a favourable set of fixtures.

But how high should Celtic fans dream heading into the campaign? Here is A Celtic State of Mind’s look at the different possibilities Celtic’s UEFA Champions League group stage campaign could hold.

Chances of Qualification

Celtic’s group could really go either way. Feyenoord are the champions of the Netherlands and have proven a formidable European side over the last few years, reaching the Europa League quarter-final last year and reaching the Conference League final the year prior.

Feyenoord’s lack of playing in a top five league will have fans feeling Celtic can compete with the Rotterdam side over two games and, of the three teams Celtic have been drawn against, Feyenoord would be the closest matchup.

Atletico Madrid are known for playing a pragmatic and defensive side in European competitions but, when they want to, they are capable of putting on a show, just as they did last week by dispatching Rayo Vallecano 7-0.

The likes of Memphis Depay and Antoine Griezmann will be very tough for a weakened Celtic defence to try and contain, especially at the Wanda Metropolitano, but anything can happen at Celtic Park. If Atletico choose to go defensive then Celtic need to go all guns blazing to try and overwhelm the Spaniards.

Lazio are a team that Celtic have a history with and a team that Celtic have beaten home and away in the not-too-distant past. That was a strong Lazio team that Celtic competed with and home and away Celtic should be looking to do the same again. As the pot 3 team, you would think the Italians would be the side Celtic would be closest to competing with.

Lazio last appeared in the Champions League in the 2020/21 season where they finished second in a group consisting of Zenit Saint Petersburg, Borussia Dortmund and Club Brugge, a favourable draw. Losing Sergei Milinkovic-Savic in the summer was a big loss but Celtic should always be wary of the threat posed by marksman Ciro Immobile.

With all of this considered, where should Celtic realistically expect to finish?

Brendan Rodgers will be hungrier this time around and will also have learned his lessons from his naivety shown in his first term as manager. It is important not to get too ahead of yourself though, with Celtic’s appalling recent European record lingering. The last time Celtic reached the knockout rounds was in the 2012/13 season when the club had a favourable draw, and this would be Celtic’s best chance to try and repeat that feat.

However, 3rd place in the group should still be seen as progress.


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