Copenhagen manager Stale Solbakken reacts to Celtic draw

By David Walton

December 16, 2019

FC Copenhagen manager Stale Solbakken believes that the Europa League last-32 tie between his side and Celtic could go either way.

The Hoops were today handed their biggest chance to reach the last-16 of the competition since its revamp back in 2009. In recent years, Celtic have been drawn against sides such as Inter Milan, Zenit St Petersburg, and Valencia respectively.

Copenhagen will come into the tie after finishing second in their Europa League group. The Danish champions managed to end their campaign with nine points, finishing ahead of Lugano and Dynamo Kyiv respectively.

Stale Solbakken’s Copenhagen finished second in their Europa League group (Lars Ronbog / FrontZoneSport via Getty Images)

Celtic, at face value, look like favourites when you look at both squads. However, speaking via the official Copenhagen website, Solbakken’s early prediction is that it can go either way.

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“I think it was a fine draw for us, and we have a fair chance of going to the round of 16.

“It’s an attractive team for our fans, and we had some good fights against them in 2006. I regard our chances as 50/50, so it is a fine opponent for us.”

Copenhagen look far removed from the 2006 team

As Solbakken mentioned, Celtic met Copenhagen in the Champions League back in 2006. Gordon Strachan’s Celts won 1-0 at Parkhead before succumbing to a 3-1 defeat in Denmark.

However recent success in Europe has evaded them. They did manage to make the last-16 of the Europa back in 2017, but outside of that they’ve only qualified from a group stage once in the last eight years.

Celtic lost 3-1 in Copenhagen back in 2006, but knocked them out of their Champions League group (Bech Andersen/AFP via Getty Images)

Domestically they’ve also been faltering. Copenhagen currently sit seven points behind Mitdjylland, who currently have played a game more than Solbakken’s side. Mitdjylland, remember, were mauled 7-3 by Rangers on aggregate in Europa League qualifying. There is plenty of reason to be optimistic for this one.

Neil Lennon will likely be keen to follow the same narrative. Neither manager will want to give anything away or say something that will make themselves look foolish.

Neil Lennon will be all set for the Europa League last-32 (Paul Ursachi/MB Media/Getty Images)

Copenhagen will be a tough test regardless of their recent struggles. They’re in this stage of the competition for a reason,even if they did fail to win any of their games against Malmo or Kyiv respectively.

Solbakken is showing Celtic respect in his immediate reaction and clearly doesn’t want to come across as arrogant. But there’s no denying that Lenny’s side could’ve been given a tougher-looking tie on paper.