Fresh off their win against Ross County Celtic quickly turn their eye to Baku as they look to progress to the play-off stage of the Champions League qualifiers. While the media in Scotland are still disputing a red card decision flash point that was one of only many on Saturday there is no time to dwell for Celtic.
Ronny Deila picked his team on Saturday with Wednesday’s game in mind. Ciftci obviously out because of suspension which let Leigh come in and score from the spot – soon after being substituted because of injury. The Celtic manager sighting after the game that he was taken off as a precaution and should be fit for the qualifier.
Celtic are going into the unknown, much like they did two seasons ago against Shaktar Karagandy. On that occasion Celtic were beaten 2-0 away from home and were only redeemed by a second leg home performance to remember. We do not have that luxury this time around, we take a 1-0 lead to Azerbaijan which is precarious at best. If you’ve followed Celtic for any real amount of time you will know away in Europe they try their best to find a way to fail. Sometimes it isn’t their fault and extenuating circumstances play their part but other times glorious failure and shooting ourselves in the foot have been the theme. To progress Celtic need to be focused and adapt to conditions they will not be used to. The heat over in Boku could top 30 degrees by kick off on Wednesday.
Watching Celtic in the first leg against Qarabag we were in control for most of the game with the away team never really properly threatening coming forward. They tried their best to park the bus and nearly got away with a 0-0. Luckily new Bhoy Boyata popped up in the last 10 minutes of the game to ensure Celtic gained the advantage.
No doubt this team will come out in the second leg and hope to hurt Celtic early on, just like FC Stjarnan did two weeks ago. On that occasion Celtic managed to regain composure to kick on and win the game and tie very comfortably. Obviously Qarabag are a different proposition to our friends over in Iceland but Celtic still have more than enough about them to kill off the tie if they cut out silly errors that plague them away in Europe.
It’s time for the bhoys to step up and prove their European credentials. Lets hope they can!
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