With a crushing inevitability, Celtic were drawn in a difficult group with regular rivals Barcelona. Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City and Bundesliga dark-horses Borussia Monchengladbach complete the group of death. Celtic legend John Hartson described it as one that “could have been worse, it could have been easier.” So what can Celtic fans expect from our European adversaries?
The Pep Guardiola reign is already well underway with a number of the game’s most talented youngsters heading to the Etihad to help the bald gaffer realise his next tactical innovation. Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus are yet to feature but will be more acclimatised by the time they face the Hoops, while John Stones is set to become England’s attempt to replicate Gerard Pique. Experience has been drafted in the shape of Nolito and the as yet injured Ilkay Gundogan. Despite limitless wealth and domestically success City have, thus far, been unable to convert this into continental domination. This surely is Pep’s main aim.
Star man – Sergio Aguero
The diminutive forward is a genuine phenomenon; his eye for goal, explosive acceleration, fast feet and relentless effort have combined to make him the Premier League’s best player. Only an infuriating series of debilitating injuries have prevented him joining the likes of Messi, Ronaldo, Suarez and Neymar in the cabal of elite players.
Unsung Hero – Raheem Sterling
Many have been delighted to sneer and jeer at the relatively lacklustre start to Sterling’s life in Manchester. The manner in which he seemingly forced his exit from Liverpool soured the mouths of fans and left him looking like the poster boy of the modern-day footballer – a callow, overhyped, greedy man-child. This characterisation of Sterling was, and is, unfair, although it is up to Sterling to disprove it. Although early days, Sterling looks a player reborn under Guardiola’s guidance; stronger, braver, more confident and oddly enough he looks a yard quicker. His continued habit of providing assists mark him out as an underrated danger man for the Citizens.
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