Celtic attacker Ryan Christie is already dreaming of a potential Europa League final spot as the last-32 of the competition gets set to begin.
The Hoops have been drawn against Danish champions Copenhagen in a draw that certainly excited fans. It should be a competitive tie, but it’s also provided us with genuine hope and expectation that we’ll reach the last-16.
From there on in, anything can happen. Celtic would only be three more rounds from the final, and after picking up 13 points to top a group that contained the likes of Lazio and Rennes, confidence is high at Parkhead.
Christie perhaps symbolised that aura of self-belief when speaking to the Celtic View about his European hopes (Volume 55, Issue 30, Page 12). Here’s what the Scotland international had to say on our expectations for the campaign:
“Since the draw, everyone has been looking forward to this game, but, despite us saying and reiterating this all the time, we do play game-to-game, and can only ever allow ourselves to think about it once the previous game is out of the way.
“Now, we’re back fully focused on Europe, and I do think playing at home second benefits us.
“Can we go all the way? I mean, why not? I think that needs to be our attitude. It’s never going to be easy, but, especially at Celtic Park, the effect that place has is incredible.”
Competition will be stiff should we progress further
Just getting through to the last-16 will represent progress for Celtic. Neil Lennon can do what both Ronny Deila and Brendan Rodgers before him failed to manage – getting us through a latter-stage European tie. It would also be a first for him too.
Of course, the manager will want to tame any talk of making the final. We all know how difficult Europe is, and you’ll do well to find many supporters who would fully expect us to reach the final in Gdansk.
Then again, had the group stages been two-legged affairs, Celtic would’ve knocked out both Lazio and Rennes. We also likely would’ve beaten Cluj too, considering they only faced a second-string Celtic side in our final group-stage match and won 2-0.
Of course, the quality gets better the further we progress. Copenhagen are a solid outfit and only lost one match in the group stage. However, the likes of Inter Milan, Red Bull Salzburg, Sevilla, and Roma would be a step-up if we drew any of them in the next round.
Supporters and players are quite right to dream. We’re also quite right to expect qualification from this tie we’re currently in. Should we manage that, it would be a rather satisfying European campaign. Granted, the intrigue would be there to see how far we can go.
The potential of this Celtic side hasn’t been realised in Europe yet. It’s that excitement that allows for the likes of Christie to dream.