Celtic have a big chance tonight to earn their first win in Spain

By David Walton

February 21, 2019

Celtic’s record in Spain certainly isn’t a good one, but tonight gives them a chance to earn their first ever win in the country.

The Hoops take on Valencia at the Mestalla tonight and will look to eat into the 2-0 lead the La Liga giants are looking to defend from the first leg at Parkhead. The Europa League last-32 tie was one of the glamour fixtures of the round, but Celtic are in danger of dropping out with a whimper.

It’s going to take one almighty task to retrieve the situation, but the Hoops won’t be giving up hope. Brendan Rodgers has been speaking about the importance of the first goal, and it certainly is essential.

Celtic have had a few harsh lessons in Spain (Denis Doyle/Getty Images)

Yet, another vital aspect of tonight is getting the monkey off of our back in Spain. 

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The Hoops have visited there on 16 different separate occasions in the past. Despite that, they’ve failed to win a single match. Instead, they’ve only recorded three draws and 13 defeats. Celtic have also lost on their last five trips to Spain too.

Granted, when Celtic go over there, it’s never to face ordinary opposition. The Parkhead side have taken on Barcelona (x6), Atletico Madrid (x3), Valencia (x2), Villarreal (x2), Real Madrid, Celta Vigo, and Real Sociedad respectively.

Just the two trips to Valencia

Against Valencia, Celtic have been on the end of two successive defeats. A 4-2 loss in the Inter Cities Fairs Cup of 1963 was first up. Then, 39 years later, the Hoops lost a UEFA Cup third round first leg match to them in Spain. That ended 1-0 to the Spaniards.

Therefore, Celtic have never left the Mestalla with anything other than a defeat. Granted, it doesn’t bode well for tonight, but our stats away from home in Europe never do.

Celtic’s last trip to the Mestalla back in 2001 ended in a 1-0 defeat (Ross Kinnaird/ALLSPORT)

To go through, Celtic need to score three. They’ve actually already one that away from home in Europe this season too. That came in their first qualifying round first leg away to Alashkert in the Champions League.

Celtic haven’t managed to score more than one goal in a match in Spain since that clash in Fairs Cup ’63 clash.

But if the Hoops could sneak out of Spain with a 1-0 or 2-1 success, that would be fantastic in itself.

Sure, the disappointment of potentially going out of Europe tonight would overshadow everything. The truth is, however, that Celtic don’t need to qualify for tonight to be historic.