Celtic must look to end Europa League habit against Rennes
There is no doubt that Celtic’s Europa League group stage campaign has been a huge success so far. The Hoops have 10 points from a possible four games, sit top of Group E and have already qualified for the last 32 of the competition.
However, there is one aspect of the four fixtures so far that Neil Lennon will be hoping does not repeat itself when the Hoops take on Rennes on Thursday.
Commendable defensive record
So far Celtic have conceded three goals in their four Europa League matches. That is a commendable record that deserves credit. However, in each of the games where the Hoops have conceded goals, they have conceded the first goal in the game.
It happened in the 1-1 draw with Rennes, and both 2-1 wins over Lazio. Thankfully none of the goals conceded have proven to be costly for the Hoops. However, it is still a habit Neil Lennon will want to see the Hoops get out of in the remaining two games of the group stages.
Celtic’s objective should be six points from those fixtures, to ensure that they finish top of Europa League Group E. It will make the task easier for the Hoops to finish top of the Group if they get out of the habit of conceding the first goal.
First goal could lead to a comfortable win
Should Celtic score the first goal, it could lead to a relatively comfortable night for the Hoops. That is what happened in the 2-0 win over Cluj. The Hoops scored the opening goal, and didn’t look back. Indeed, the margin of victory could have been a lot more convincing than it was.
There is a chance that the Hoops could clinch top spot in the group on Thursday, depending on how the two results go in the group. A Hoops win could all but guarantee first place. The chances of a Celtic win will be enhanced should the Hoops score the first goal. That is what Neil Lennon should be telling his players ahead of the game.