Now that Celtic have assured a top two spot in Europa League Group E, attention will turn to the round of 32 in February.
It’s still to be determined whether we will be seeded or not for that round. That fate will be decided by our final ranking in the group – be it first or second. We could secure top spot as early as matchday five if we beat Rennes and Lazio see off Cluj.
However, something else very important may be on the minds of three Celtic stars who were integral to the win in Rome.
What’s the situation?
Celtic trio Odsonne Edouard, Christopher Jullien and Scott Brown are all walking a bit of a disciplinary tightrope at present. All three have been yellow carded twice during our group stage campaign thus far. A third booking will see them suspended for one match.
UEFA disciplinary regulations (page 45) state that bookings accrued in the group stage are carried into the knockout rounds – although they do expire after the quarter-finals. That means that a matchday six booking for either Edouard, Jullien or Brown would see them miss the first leg of our last 32 clash.
What’s the solution?
Of course, there’s a rather devious way around this. If any of the trio pick up a booking in our next match against Rennes, they will then serve their suspension in the rather more meaningless clash against Cluj on matchday six.
Their bookings would then we back to scratch and they would be able to play in both last 32 legs (at least) without the fear of punishment.
‘Deliberate bookings’ are nothing new. Real Madrid man Sergio Ramos tried it last season and ended up with an extended ban as a result. (talkSPORT)
Sergio Ramos has been given a two-game suspension by UEFA for deliberately getting himself booked against Ajax…pic.twitter.com/X6bfp6lKsb
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) February 28, 2019
UEFA are coming down very hard on that kind of behaviour but you doubt an incident in a Celtic vs Rennes match would be nearly as high-profile as an Ajax vs Real Madrid Champions League last 16 clash.
So quite simply: Odsonne, Christopher and Scott – get yourself a non-obvious booking against Rennes and then save yourself the hassle of a trip to Romania for a meaningless fixture. We won’t mind at all.