Celtic find themselves in the unusual position of already qualifying for the knockout stages even though there are still two games to go. A home game against Rennes and our second trip to Cluj this season will round off the group but with so many fans already looking to the knockout phase and the draw early next year – here’s why you should still care about these last two games as if we hadn’t already qualified.
Celtic stand to earn €570k per win in the Europa League group stage – cause enough for Neil Lennon to want to play his best side.
Finishing top of the group also brings two advantages, an extra €500k for the club’s coffers and the chance to dodge some of the big hitters in the competition. We’ve not got past the last 32 of the Europa League in this current format with the bhoys finishing second in their group they have drawn; Inter Milan, Zenit St Petersburg and Valencia. Finishing top would provide a better chance of not landing one of the big boys, helping our case for the last 16 of the competition.
This is why I hope Celtic fans bring the thunder like they did in the Lazio game when Rennes come to town. Apathy or complacency could mean a harder game further down the line.