FK Sarajevo certainly won’t be underestimated by Celtic.
After all, the Lincoln Red Imps have pretty much made sure no club will ever be dismissed by the Scottish champions ever again. Memories of that disastrous evening in Gibraltar three years ago are still an embarrassment to look back on.
So when Celtic take to the field against the Bosnian outfit in the first qualifying round of the Champions League in three weeks’ time, nothing will be taken for granted.
Celtic will do their research, and it will be extensive. But one thing they can look at for inspiration, but not complacency, is Sarajevo’s overall record in Europe.
When Celtic come up against the Bosnian side, they won’t be coming up against qualifying veterans. Whereas the likes of Lincoln Red Imps have reached the first qualifying round in each of the last six years, this is only Sarajevo’s second time in the qualifying rounds of the Champions League in 12 years. Their last meeting came against Polish side Lech Poznan back in 2015, when they were beaten 3-0 on aggregate.
They have also only ever won three Champions League qualification ties in their 73-year history. Their last qualifying win came back in 2007-08, when they dismissed Marsaxlokk and Genk respectively.
No group stage pedigree to talk about
They have also never reached the group stage of either the Champions League or Europa League/Uefa Cup. Indeed, Europe’s secondary competition is where you can often find Sarajevo. In six of the last eight seasons, Sarajevo have taken part in the Europa League qualifiers. They’ve managed to win seven ties in that time, but have never made it past the play-off round.
Sarajevo were also infamously embarrassed in an 8-0 home defeat by Atalanta last season. There perhaps wasn’t as much shame in that given the Italian side ended up finishing third in Serie A. But it shows you the kind of level the Bosnians are operating at.
There’s not a lot there that will inspire confidence in the Bosnian champions. They’ve lost their last four Champions League qualification matches, and this is a side Celtic should sweep aside with ease.
The fact the first-leg is at Parkhead is another bonus for the Hoops.
Even if Celtic aren’t going to underestimate their opponents, it’s difficult to just dismiss their poor European record. As mentioned, of course, the Lincoln Red Imps certainly didn’t offer much in that regard either. But that was a freak result on a freak night.
99 times out of 100, we should be overwhelming Sarajevo. Expectations of anything other than a convincing win shouldn’t be acceptable within the dressing room walls.