Celtic Europa League opponent update: Rennes bounce back, Lazio imperious, Cluj stumble

By John McGinley

December 2, 2019

Celtic are rapidly approaching the end of another European group stage campaign and it’s fair to say it couldn’t have gone much better.

We qualified for the Europa League knockout stages with two games to spare, won the group with one game to spare and can now look ahead to our final match against Cluj with the pressure completely off.

While the majority of the matches are now behind us, it’s still nice to see how the teams we’ve outclassed to date are faring domestically. It’s always a bit of a confidence boost to see a side like Lazio dominating Serie A opposition knowing that we got the better of them.

So how did the trio get on in their respective leagues this weekend?

Rennes bounce back

Julien Stephan’s side put their woes at Celtic Park behind them with a crucial 2-1 victory over St-Etienne on Sunday, despite going behind in the match at home.

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A Raphinha equaliser cancelled out Lois Diony’s opener before Damien Da Silva netted a dramatic stoppage-time winner to significantly boost their Ligue 1 hopes.

Although they sit in tenth, the win moves them to within three points of third-place, with a game in hand on all but one of the teams above them.

When you consider that St-Etienne have beaten teams like Lyon, Boredeaux and Monaco this season, it’s a solid result for Rennes.

(Photo by JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images)

Lazio make it six-in-a-row

The Italian side haven’t let their disappointing Europa League campaign upset their Serie A form this season.

They’ve won their last six league matches and remain the third-placed side behind Juventus and Inter Milan at the top of the table.

Their latest came on Sunday at home to Udinese, with the Rome side picking up a confident 3-0 victory.

As they continue to show their class in a competitive league full of star players, Celtic’s achievement of taking six points off them only grows in its impressiveness.

With a big chance to qualify as runners up to Celtic in Europe, they’ll be hoping the Bhoys do them a favour in Romania on matchday six.

(photo by Massimo Insabato/Archivio Massimo Insabato/Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)

Cluj stumble again

The Romanian champions have looked a little vulnerable in recent weeks and their league draw away to Hermannstadt on Sunday means they’ve now won just one of their last four matches in all competitions.

They’ve worked hard to put themselves into a position that could see them qualify for the knockout stages but will find it difficult up against Neil Lennon’s men in the final group game. They only need to avoid defeat to book their place in the Round of 32.

As we covered earlier today, Petrescu is unhappy with his fixture schedule prior to our visit and his side are also carrying a few knocks.

It’s no time to panic for Dan Petrescu given they are also still first-placed in the Romanian top-flight, but can they show the right mentality and prove they are capable of bettering Lazio and Rennes in the group, just like Celtic?