The three things Celtic must do keep Europa League dreams alive

By John Reid

February 21, 2019

Celtic are big outsiders going into the second leg of their Europa League tie against Valencia. The Hoops travel to Spain facing a 2-o deficit, knowing that they must score at two goals to have a chance of progressing.

Miracles can happen in football though, and the Hoops can make it through to the last 16 of the competition if they do these three things:

1. DON’T CONCEDE AN EARLY GOAL

(Photo by Alexander DemianchukTASS via Getty Images)

Conceding an early goal in Europe has haunted the Hoops in recent years. Look at last season’s 3-0 loss to Zenit for example, the Bhoys were a goal down after seven minutes and didn’t recover.

A new dawn beckons for Celtic in Europe, as Joe Hart shows his class once again

The Hoops will have to keep it tight at the back for the opening spell of the game. If they concede an early goal the heads might drop and it will a tough game that much tougher.

2. SCORE THE FIRST GOAL

(JOE KLAMAR/AFP/Getty Images)

This might seem obvious but that doesn’t make it any less true. It is vital that the Hoops score the first goal in the game. It would give them a foothold in the game and create doubt in the mind of Valencia, who had it easy in the first leg.

3. USE THE WIDE PLAYERS

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – APRIL 23: Scott Sinclair (L) and James Forrest (R) of Celtic celebrate their team’s 2-0 victory after the Scottish Cup Semi-Final match between Celtic and Rangers at Hampden Park on April 23, 2017 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

It was noticeable in the recent game against Kilmarnock that Celtic seemed reluctant to use their wide players. The moves seemed to go through the middle, with James Forrest and Scott Sinclair often drifting into the middle of the park.

That is a waste of their talent, they will be of much more use going down the wing, taking me on and getting crosses into the box.

If the Hoops do the three things outlined above, it could be a memorable night in Europe for Celtic.