Celtic’s draw for the last 32 of the Europa League seems to be, on the face of it, a favourable one. The Hoops will play FC Copenhagen in February.
When you look at the teams Celtic could have faced in the last 32 – Roma or Wolves, for example – Neil Lennon and his players must be quietly confident about the game.
However, one thing that Celtic will have to overcome is their poor record in the knockout stages of European competition.
Last knockout win was against European giants
Celtic have not won a knockout tie post-Christmas in Europe since 2004, when the Hoops defeated Barcelona. Since then, they have won qualifying games in early stages of European competition, but no knockout ties.
The Hoops have lost seven knockout ties in a row since defeating Barcelona in 2004, and have been defeated at the last 32 stage of the Europa League in the last two seasons.
What makes it different on this occasion though is that the Hoops will play the second leg against Copenhagen at home.
That could be vital in helping the Hoops make the last 16 of the tournament. When you look at how Copenhagen have fared in the tournament so far, Celtic really should be strong favourites to win the tie.
Upcoming opponents have been average so far
This is likely to be Celtic’s best chance to end their poor run of knockout performances. The last 16 is an open draw, and the Hoops could face any team, which might include the likes of Inter Milan and Ajax. Those are teams Celtic would more than likely truffle against.
That really should not be the case with Copenhagen though. It would be a disappointment if after beating Lazio twice in the group stages, the Hoops fell at the next hurdle of the tournament.
Neil Lennon will be well aware of that though. He will have Celtic raring to go one step further than any recent Hoops side have gone in Europe.