Although the focus of Neil Lennon and his Celtic squad has been entirely on domestic matters recently, there is a massive looming tie on the horizon against FC Copenhagen.
Odsonne Edouard and company travel to Denmark later this month for a Round of 32 clash in the Europa League.
That’s before the return leg a week later at Celtic Park, with both fixtures likely to command big crowds and a noisy atmosphere.
It’ll be a fantastic break from the week-to-week action in the Scottish Premiership and on the face of things it’s an immensely winnable tie.
Celtic showed their class in the group stages with victories over Serie A high-flyers Lazio and we won’t have much fear facing any of the teams left in the competition.
Football in Denmark has been on an extended winter break almost since the draw was made so Stale Solbakken’s side have had to make do with friendlies to keep sharp.
For the most part things have been going OK, with a victory of Halmstad occurring on 25th January before their participation in the Atlantic Cup.
That’s a mid-season football tournament held in Algarve, Portugal for European football clubs from national leagues which do not operate in the winter months.
They overcame the challenge of old Celtic foes Astana 1-0 on January 31st.
However, today they’ve been beaten by Swedish outfit Norrkoping on penalties after a 0-0 draw in normal time.
That spot-kick practice may serve them well, though it’s heartening to hear they’ve missed a few prior to facing us.
They have one competitive fixture ahead of hosting Celtic, playing Esbjerg in league action on the Friday preceding.
Solbakken planning for extended Euro run
Reflecting on his side’s transfer window recruitment this week, Solbakken made a comment that suggested he’s planning for life after the Celtic tie, feeling he had to bring players in to plan for a heavy schedule.
Our opponents signed Icelandic international defender Ragnar Sigurdsson and Danish U19 striker Mikkel Kaufmann.
As quoted by Copenhagen’s website, he said: “If we beat Celtic (in the UEFA Europa League), we will have to play matches every three days for quite a long time.
“With Ragnar, it’s very simple. We were fortunate that Sotirios Papagiannopoulos and Victor Nelsson lasted the entire autumn and avoided injuries and suspensions. But now Victor starts again with a suspension, and we know matches are coming thick and fast.”
Obviously we’ll be out to spoil that party and hopefully Lennon’s men can rise to the occasion when this fixture comes around.