Competing for Last 16: Kenny Dalglish's class Celtic Champions League verdict

By John McGinley

August 28, 2022

Kenny Dalglish is expecting Celtic to challenge for second spot in the upcoming Champions League group stage and predicts Ange Postecoglou will stick to his strong playing vision despite the strength of opponent.

Dalglish, a three-time winner of the tournament with Liverpool, is relishing the prospect of seeing the Bhoys go toe-to-toe with Real Madrid, RB Leipzig and Shakhtar Donetsk.

And he reckons the Bhoys have nothing to be scared of over the next two months.

Photo by Lukas Schulze – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

Writing in his Sunday Post column today, he said [28/08 print edition, Post Match supplement, page 20]: “I’m certain Ange Postecoglou and his men will embrace the challenge. You would expect Real Madrid to top the section, and for Celtic to battle it out with Shakhtar Donetsk and RB Leipzig for the right to finish runners-up. I do not think there is anything for Celtic to fear.

“It will be interesting to see how Ange sets out his team for these games. He says he is not going to change his style, and I do not doubt him. If it’s what he believes in, then he is right to stick by it.

“There are many quality players in the Parkhead team, and there is no doubt the likes of Jota, Kyogo, Matt O’riley, Reo Hatate and Mcgregor can hurt their opponents.

“It’s also about keeping clean sheets, and they will have to be fully concentrated for 90 minutes. Joe Hart will thrive on being back on the Champions League stage. He will be vital for the Hoops in all six games. So will the Celtic supporters. The atmosphere will be incredible inside their own stadium.”

Progression into the last 16 of the tournament would be a fantastic achievement for Celtic, given we entered from Pot Four. Only a small handful of clubs have managed to do that as bottom seeds over the last few years.

Personally, I’d be happy enough with a third spot in the group, parachuting into the knockout stages of the Europa League.

I see a last 16 spot as achievable and a Europa League spot as acceptable. Only a fourth-placed finish would really frustrate supporters.

However it plays out, I’m excited to see this group of players go up against Europe’s elite teams, starting with the reigning champions Real Madrid.

In other news, One change to maintain league leader status: Celtic Predicted XI vs Dundee United.