Celtic go into matchday two of their Champions League campaign on Wednesday, taking on Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. Another daunting fixture in a very daunting group. It’s tough to predict anything other than a victory for the English side, given the reality check kindly provided by Barcelona two weeks ago. However, there is one key difference between the match against the Catalans and the upcoming fixture against Aguero and co – we’re at home.
There are few, if any, better venues for a Champions League fixture than Parkhead. The game’s elite players have branded Paradise as one of the greatest atmospheres they have ever experienced. Without the home crowd, Celtic may not have even been participating in the Champions League Group Stages this year – Hapoel Beer Sheva were evidently spooked by the sheer noise and passion of the home support, as Celtic found themselves blowing their opponents away in the first half. The Israeli’s victory against Inter Milan in the San Siro proves that they were a top side affected by playing in Celtic Park.
Manchester United, AC Milan, Shaktar Donetsk, Barcelona, Ajax, Juventus and Porto have all fallen to defeats under the lights in the East End of Glasgow. Celtic are a different beast at home. But given the sheer strength and ability in the Manchester City squad, a victory for the Hoops would no doubt go down as one of the greatest accomplishments in recent history.
We will learn a lot from this fixture. If we do pick up a positive result, it will be in no part down to the unbelievable atmosphere created by the Hoops supporters. If we succumb to another heavy defeat, it’s clear that we need further strengthening in the squad, as raising your game at home in the Champions League is the benchmark of successful Celtic sides in recent years.
The fans will play a crucial part on Wednesday. If we expect the team to raise their game, let’s raise ours. Sometimes, it really does work.