There is a comparison to be made between the Celtic team that plays Valencia in the last 32 of the Europa League and the team which played Zenit St Petersburg at the same stage last season.

It can be argued that the current Celtic side look better placed to reach the last 16 than they did last year.

(Peter Kovalev/TASS via Getty Images)

One reason: the Hoops seem more focused. This time last year the Hoops were nine points clear at the top of the league and resting players for league games. There’s no chance of that this season.

The gap at the top of the league is only six points and every game counts. The best available team is picked for every game, be it in the league or in Europe.

(Igor Russak/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Another reason: the goalkeeping situation. Dorus de Vries was in goals for the Hoops in the tie last season. He was dreadful as the Bhoys went down 3-0 in the second leg.

(Igor Russak/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

This year it’s a different story. Scott Bain is in goal, and he is currently on a run of six clean sheets in a row. That has spread confidence to a defence which looked all at sea with de Vries in goals last season.

 

There is no guarantee Celtic will defeat Valencia. Indeed, it is probably a more difficult tie than the Zenit one last season.

On the surface though, Celtic do look to be getting into the groove once more, and it could be a good time for them to try to catch Valencia cold.