Celtic's Champions League opponents both fresh opposition

By David Walton

July 22, 2019

Celtic’s potential Champions League rivals represent yet more history for the Hoops.

Neil Lennon’s men, of course, face Estonian champions Nomme Kalju in the second qualifying round over the next two weeks. In order to progress to the third round, Celtic will need to have their game face on against their underdog opponents.

But should they do so, Maccabi Tel-Aviv or CFR Cluj will await in the next stage. And what that represents is yet another first for the Hoops in European competition.

Celtic have never faced CFR Cluj (Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Celtic have never faced either side in the Champions League or Europa League throughout their history. The Parkhead side have faced teams from both Romania and Israel respectively, but never either of the pair we’ve been drawn against for the next round.

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It carries on from a season of firsts in the Champions League so far. Sarajevo in the first round saw us head to a new country in Bosnia to face new opposition. The same could’ve been said for either Kalju or Shkendija in this upcoming second qualifying round too. Celtic had never been to Macedonia or Estonia, but will visit the latter next Tuesday for their return leg vs Kalju.

Champions League rivals won’t be easy pickings

As mentioned previously, the trend isn’t exactly the same for the next round. Celtic have played Romanian sides Poli Timisoara and Astra Giurgiu in the past. As for Israeli opposition, we’ve played against Hapoel Tel-Aviv and Hapoel Be’er Sheva over the course of our history.

Celtic have never won in Romania (Daniel Mihailescu/AFP/Getty Images)

Celtic have won only one of three visits to Israel in the past. That victory came in Tel-Aviv back in 1999. The other two matches ended in defeat to Hapoel Tel-Aviv and Be’er Sheva in 2009 and 2016 respectively.

Celtic have never won in Romania, however, having lost to Poli Timisoara back in the 1980-81 season. The Romanians would actually knock us out of the Cup Winners’ Cup with that result too. Our only other trip to Romania came under Ronny Deila, as we drew 1-1 with Astra in the Europa League back in 2014.

Celtic’s record in Israel isn’t great (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

The good news? Celtic have won five out of five meetings with all Israeli and Romanian opposition at Celtic Park. All four opponents mentioned have been felled at Parkhead, with Hapoel Tel-Aviv losing twice in Glasgow.

Of course, neither Cluj or Maccabi Tel-Aviv have been in our path, but our history against sides from both clubs’ nations proves that Neil Lennon will have to be wary should we defeat Nomme Kalju.