Leverkusen lose, Betis batter Valencia; How Celtic Europa League foes got on this week
Celtic are on an excellent run of form this week alone, with wins over St Johnstone and Hibernian; but how are our Europa League rivals faring?
After the Bhoys’ win over Ferencvaros, the Europa League Group G is still all to play for [UEFA]. With Celtic playing all three of our group opponents soon, domestic form is all-important for our European travails.
It’s Ferencvaros we have to take on first, and they sent out one heck of a warning last night. The Hungarians walloped Tököl in the MOL Hungarian Cup, racking up a 7-0 scoreline. There were doubles from Zubkov, Uzuni and Zachariassen, while Mak added the seventh goal late on [Fradi.hu].
Staying with cup competition, there was a shock for Bayer Leverkusen in the DFB Pokal [German Football]. The high-flying Bayer lost 2-1 to Karlsruher SC, who sit 8th in the 2. Bundesliga.
Jeremie Frimpong’s 54th minute goal was scant consolation, with Karlsruher going ahead in the 4th minute through Lucas Cueto. Then, after the ex-Celtic man had equalised, Kyoung Rok Choi pounced on a Lukas Hradecky mistake to finish cooly and seal a win.
Finally, Real Betis. Oh, Real Betis. The Andalusians, who started slowly under Manuel Pellegrini, are legitimate title contenders at this point [Sky Sports]. Los Verdiblancos beat Valencia 4-1 at home, with goals from Borja Iglesias, German Pezzella and Juanmi putting the game bed by 70 minutes.
It was an emphatic victory for Pellegrini’s side, who dominated possession and created numerous chances against Valencia [Fotmob].
Celtic will take nothing for granted after mixed results for Europa League group
Some quick context to the Ferencvaros game; it was a cup win against a team leagues below. Still, though, putting 7 goals past anyone is enough to raise an eyebrow ahead of next Thursday’s trip to Hungary.
Real Betis are the surprise package here. While they have some excellent players and a manager who’s wily and experienced, Betis have had high quality squads who have underperformed over recent campaigns. That they’re putting big results together shows the progress made under Pellegrini.
It’s Leverkusen who look like the wounded animal just now. Since their thumping from Bayern Munich, they’ve drawn against Betis and Köln, before last night’s surprise cup exit.
But this will be nothing that Ange Postecoglou or his staff are either going to worry about or take too much heart from. We’ve seen how devastating Bayer Leverkusen can be, we’ve already found a way past Ferencvaros, and we know how good Betis are.
There’s still a lot of work to do, if Celtic have designs on progressing past the group stage in the Europa League.