Mijallby makes bold Celtic claim

By David Walton

September 9, 2018

Former hero Johan Mjallby has stated Celtic can reach the Europa League final this season.

The former Hoops ace was part of Martin O’Neill’s class of 2003 that reached the UEFA Cup final. That, ironically, came after being knocked out of the Champions League qualifiers.

Celtic were knocked out of the Champions League by AEK Athens this season (MB Media/Getty Images)

This season’s Celtic side have already suffered that blow. Getting knocked out of the Champions League by AEK Athens was a big set-back for Brendan Rodgers’ side. But, every cloud has a silver lining as the Hoops ultimately qualified for the Europa League by knocking out Suduva.

Mjallby, also a former Celtic assistant manager, is happy to draw comparisons. The Swede told the Scottish Sun that he sees no reason to believe the Hoops can’t go all the way in the Europa.

Why not? Definitely. This team has been absolutely fantastic for two years, winning two Trebles. They have a lot of talent in the squad, good, good players. We’ll have to wait and see how they do obviously in the group stage first – and it’s quite a tough group. But I think they’ve got every chance because they will improve in every game. A good run in the league and obviously a good, confident group stage will help them going forward.

Optimistic goal

Qualification to the Europa League was the bare minimum Celtic needed this season. The disappointment of the Champions League remains a sour patch with supporters, and the club has a lot of making up to do.

Mjallby’s claim is a big boost for supporters as he knows as much as anyone about shrugging off disappointment to get to the final of the Europa. Under O’Neill, Celtic came so close to winning the UEFA Cup, losing 3-2 to Porto in the final of 2003.

Mjallby spent six years at Celtic between 1998 and 2004 (Stu Forster/ALLSPORT/Getty Images)

This season, Celtic will be satisfied just to get out of their group stage you would imagine. With both Red Bull sides as well as Rosenborg in there, it’ll be a tough task for the Hoops to qualify.

Added to that, Rodgers’ men were given a going over against Zenit St Petersburg in the last 32 last season. A dreadful display in Russia reminded everyone just how tough this competition can be.

Getting to the final remains such an optimistic goal, but it’s clear Mjallby believes the club can achieve it. For now, Celtic supporters will just be happy to get out of what looks like a supremely tough group.