How all of Celtic's UEL rivals got on yesterday
As Celtic get ready for their biggest domestic game of the season today, the rest of our UEL rivals were in action over the past 24 hours.
Indeed, Ange Postecoglou’s focus will be on nobody but Rangers this afternoon. It’s a match that could give Celtic the biggest boost they’ve received this season and push the narrative that the Hoops are serious title contenders.
The game will be followed by an international break after which Ross County will be waiting for a Celtic Park tussle. That will be followed by our first Europa League clash in Spain against Real Betis.
And they were only one of our three rivals who were all in action yesterday and put in impressive performances. Here’s a round-up of how all of them got on:
Augsburg 1-4 Bayer Leverkusen
Celtic will have to be wary as Leverkusen’s Czech striker Patrick Shick is starting to find his form. He netted the third of Bayer’s four goals in Augsburg to make it two goals in two games.
Granted, this was a game that will be known for two horrendous own goals. Within the first 15 minutes, Augsburg’s Iago had managed to flick over his own goalkeeper before Florian Niederlecher glanced a header into his own net afterward.
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One-time Celtic target Mitchell Bakker’s howler threatened to allow Augsburg back into the game, but Leverkusen seized control for much of the contest.
A classy left-footed curler from Shick was added to by Florian Wirtz who used his electric pace to beat the goalkeeper to a long ball, round him, and slot home.
Leverkusen were coming at the hosts from all angles. With some classy goals on display here, Bayer are purring as they shoot to the top of the Bundesliga.
Real Betis 0-1 Real Madrid
Real Betis are first up on Celtic’s UEL agenda, and they proved against Real Madrid that they’ll be anything but a simple task.
Betis gave Carlo Ancelotti’s Galacticos a major fright in Seville last night. A Dani Carvajal goal was enough to send them to defeat, but it didn’t come without them creating some big openings in and around the penalty area.
One noticeable aspect of Betis’ play was their keenness to shoot from long range. They worked their passing moves well to create space for the likes of Nabil Fekir and Aitor Ruibal. However, their efforts were wayward throughout the night.
Outside of a nervy opening 15 minutes, Madrid largely struggled to break through a tight Betis backline. Ancelotti quickly moved to ensure they tried to exploit Betis down the flanks, and they did on plenty of occasions.
Carvajal’s goal came from a deep ball to the back post. Karim Benzema also netted with a header but was flagged for offside, before forcing Rui Silva into a superb stop from another glancing-headed effort.
After the opening, it was Betis looking to lay siege to the Madrid box with direct balls into the box. But the truth is they didn’t have the aerial ability to trouble the La Liga heavyweights, as they looked much more comfortable with the ball on the deck.
Regardless, it’s no wins in 3 league games for Betis, who face a trip to Granada before they host Celtic.
Ferencvaros 4-2 Debrecen
Ferencvaros have started to build some momentum domestically after a fine 4-2 home win against Debrecen yesterday.
The Hungarians had already won one and lost one in their previous domestic outings. However, this was their biggest test of the Hungarian league campaign so far, and they came through it in impressive fashion.
Celtic will remember Ferencvaros for bundling us out of the UEFA Champions League qualifiers last season. They were unlucky not to reach the group stages that year, and it was the same again this season as they lost out 6-4 on aggregate to Young Boys after dumping out Slavia Prague in the previous round.
But they’re struggling to keep the goals out. Debrecen’s two goals yesterday means Ferencvaros have now conceded 13 in their last eight games.
As many as seven of the players that started against Debrecen also featured against Celtic last term. So they have a familiarity to their team that the Hoops will need to be wary of.
They are, however, under new management after Sergei Rebrov’s departure in June. Austrian tactician Peter Stoger is now in charge of the club. To his name, he has a promotion with Koln, an Austrian title with FK Austria Wien, and a qualification for the UCL with Borussia Dortmund.
He’s an experienced coach, and will hardly be daunted by the challenge ahead. His performances in Europe already have shown that he’s ready to make his side a surprise package once again. And after another positive result against Debrecen, Ferencvaros are finding some form.