Celtic captain Callum McGregor set for world class test

By John McGinley

March 26, 2023

Celtic captain Callum McGregor will get the opportunity to test himself against elite competition on Tuesday night when Spain visit Hampden for a Euro 2024 qualifier.

McGregor earned his 50th Scotland cap on Saturday in a 3-0 win over Cyprus, earning a man of the match award in the process, and is in line to once again start against the Spaniards. They also opened their own qualification bid in a confident fashion by thrashing Norway 3-0.

Stars from Barcelona, Manchester City and Real Madrid all lined up for that one. It’ll be one of the toughest tests of McGregor’s entire season – similar to the matches he faced in the UEFA Champions League group stage with Celtic. The Bhoys midfielder played three matches in that tournament but an injury sustained against RB Leipzig then ruled him out for a significant period.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

McGregor opportunity against Spain is a good thing for Celtic

The Celtic star is looking forward to the Spain game, telling STV: “Of course it’ll be a different game from Cyprus. We’ll probably need to suffer without the ball a little bit and be defensively compact, be good, make blocks, make tackles, get up and then, you know, try and play a little bit on the counter-attack.

“But I think when we get the ball back, we have to make good choices and have a spell with the ball as well. You can’t just defend for 90 minutes. So, you know, obviously we’ll come up with a plan in the next couple of days. We’ll just rest, recover and then when we get to Tuesday, our full focus will be on getting the result.

“The Cyprus game was all about starting well and building confidence within the group and the nation that we can be positive going into Tuesday. We know it will be a difficult game but we have to approach the game with the mindset that we can win. Other than that there’s no point in turning up.”

Steve Clarke doesn’t play similar tactics to Ange Postecoglou, far from it, but Celtic player involvement in matches such as these is a definite benefit for the Bhoys when considering another step up to European competition next season.

McGregor already has a lot of experience of this nature, but this is another chance for him to further hone his skills when facing a calibre of opponent far beyond what he sees in the Scottish Premiership on a regular basis.

As long as he comes out of it injury free it’ll be a valuable night for him – win, lose or draw.

In other news, Perfect timing at Celtic is hard to ignore despite a much duller weekend.