A week ago today, we were waking up hoping that it was a nightmare and that we had safely cruised the first leg of the Champions League playoffs, but we hadn’t. We remembered the awful performance from the night before and knew that we were dangerously close to missing out on a tournament we need to be involved in. Today, I wake up thinking no different but I have hope, deep down we all have hope, it’s just how deep you have to look for it.
We can still win this and reach the group stages of the Champions League, we have got to score two at Park Head, like we did on Saturday. Shakhter Karagandy are a poor side that we can beat by four or five on our day, so let’s not fear them. We are playing at home, in front of our fans, on a real pitch. We can set the tempo, we can dictate play and we can score goals, so what’s there to worry about eh?
Well apart from the obvious scoreline, Shakhter do still pose a threat, their strength is set pieces, which is probably our weakness. We let silly goals in defensively in the away leg and we did so, again, on Saturday. We need to make sure we are defensively solid, because if we are it will give our whole team confidence and dominance. We need concentration and belief. We gave their goalkeeper very little to do in Kazakhstan, the James Forrest header straight at him demanded the biggest contribution from him all night, but when we put balls into the box, he looked there for the taking. He didn’t command his area, he didn’t come out to catch the ball, he flapped at it, so again, that gives us hope. Before the game last week, our visitors sacrificed a sheep for their cause, something that they don’t rule out doing again, the manager said that ‘it can’t be hard finding a sheep in Scotland.’ They will not do this before the game however, so they are unable to take part in their tradition and give themselves luck, we’ve won, Bhoys and Ghirls!
If we do win, and remember we need to win by at least two goals to for it to go to extra time, we reach the group stages of the Champions League. As a result of this we will bring in new players, better players, we will see those famous nights at Celtic Park, and we will show the world once more, that we are a team to fear. We are just one game away from making that happen. Samaras has had a knock but he says he will be fit, Commons and Stokes are also hoping to play, but both Forrest and Boerritger are both 50/50.
The visitors will know by the end of tonight that there is nowhere to run, nor hide. The tie is far from over. So, let’s create an intimidating atmosphere that is associated with the Celtic supporters, and let’s carry our Bhoys through to the next stage of the Champions League. Hail Hail.