In the aftermath of Celtic’s 2-1 Europa League win over Lazio, the match-winner Olivier Ntcham made an interesting comment. He claimed that the Hoops can go far in the Europa League, and perhaps even win the tournament.
“I think that win says a lot about what we can do in Europe. Lazio are a top team in Italy. I think we can go far in this competition, even win” he said, as reported by the Scottish Sun.
It is good to see that Ntcham has plenty of confidence in his Celtic team-mates. The win against Lazio was very impressive, and it served notice to the rest of the teams in the tournament that Celtic are aiming high in the Europa League.
In this writer’s view, the current Celtic side are capable of matching the feats of the 2002-03 Celtic side, which reached the final of the UEFA Cup, only to lose 3-2 to Porto.
Undeniably a difficult task
It will undeniably be a difficult task for the Hoops to reach the latter stages of the competition. There will be good sides entering the competition from the Champions League when the last 32 draw is made in December.
However, Neil Lennon’s side have shown they have what it takes to win difficult games. Few would have expected the Hoops to come from a goal behind to defeat Lazio, but the team showed great courage and spirit to do so.
Neil Lennon was a key part of Celtic’s side which reached the UEFA Cup Final in 2003. The knowledge he has of reaching the later stages of European competitions will be able to help the current Celtic side.
Hoops may need a bit of luck
The Hoops might well need a bit of luck if they are going to go far in the Europa League. But you need to be lucky, and you need to be good to go far in the Europa League. So far the Hoops have been good, the luck may help in the latter stages of the tournament.
The first thing Celtic need to do is ensure that they finish top of Group E in the Europa League. That would help the Hoops avoid some tougher teams in the tournament. It would also ensure that they are seeded for the last 32.
Obviously most Celtic fans will be focused on domestic issue this season. The quest to win nine in a row is most important. However, after that win in Rome, there is no reason why Celtic cannot go on a run in the Europa League. With some good football and some good fortune, the Bhoys could reach their first European final since 2003.