Europa travails and Celtic out for revenge: Predicting the next 6 fixtures

By Euan Davidson

September 4, 2021

Let’s be clear; the international break may be on, but the work isn’t letting up for Celtic with some fixtures coming thick and fast.

After something of a honeymoon period for new Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou, some of the really tough stuff begins. The Bhoys face some of last season’s bogey sides, with revenge on the cards agains Ross County, Dundee United and Livingston.

Meanwhile, Europa League action offers little respite. Celtic travel to Andalusia to take on Real Betis, before German giants Bayer Leverkusen come to Parkhead at the end of the month.

Obviously, it’d be nice to say Celtic will win each and everyone one of them 5-0. Job done, article published.

It’s not that easy though, and it never really is. Let’s take a realistic look at how the next month might go for the Bhoys in Green.

11th-19th September: Celtic make Europa League return, sandwiched by two tough fixtures

Once the international break is finished, Celtic take on a Ross County side that haven’t won in any of their opening four fixtures [WhoScored?]. Under new boss Malky McKay, the Staggies aren’t getting out of the blocks quickly.

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They’ve loaned a number of players from some of England’s best, but this still very much feels like a misshapen series of parts, rather than the collective unit John Hughes had at the club. Without veterans like Ian Vigurs and Ross Draper around, they’re likely relegation candidates.

Yet, that’s the kind of team who can come and threaten us, out of nowhere. So, it’s with caution that I predict a home win for Celtic here.

Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Then, Betis. The Andalusian side have done some very smart business. Bringing in Hector Bellerin from Arsenal was a surprise, as well as securing Willian José, both on season-long loans.

Meanwhile, on the left flank, ex-Barca man Juan Miranda is a shrewd pick-up. They’re a good team, for sure, but they’ve stumbled out the blocks in La Liga. They’ll be more together when they come to Glasgow, but not enough. I’m predicting a score draw.

On the 19th, it’s a trip to Livingston’s Tony Macaroni Arena, which doesn’t get any less weird to type through repetition. You know the score here – a horrible plastic pitch, a hostile crowd, even with the chance of Celtic supporters making it.

Yet, under Ange, I can see Celtic reversing a trend against Livi. An away win.

23rd-30th; three home ties for Celtic, and another chance for revenge

They’ll have been dancing on the streets of Raith when Celtic came up in the draw for the Premier Sports Cup.

The Fifers are on their way to Paradise with hopes to emulate their cup triumph over Celtic in 1994 [Sky Sports]. For Celtic, it’ll be a chance to use some of the squad’s youth players, while perhaps giving a full 90 minutes to a couple of new signings. It’ll be entertaining, and it should be an emphatic home win on paper.

Dundee United were an annoyance last season. At Tannadice in March, Celtic ceded the title [BBC] after a wretched, insipid display. Those who played in that game and remain at the club will be out to make an emphatic statement of their progress.

There’s room to be a little worried about the visit of the Tangerines. They did best Rangers after all. But without goalscorer Jamie Robson and Lawrence Shankland, it’s hard to see them picking up the points. Home win.

Photo by Andreas Schaad/Getty Images

Saving the best for last, perhaps, it’s Bayer Leverkusen. The Bundesliga giants have recruited exceptionally well, bringing in Patrick Schick and Mitchel Bakker to an already impressive squad.

This’ll be a tough one. With all the goodwill in the world, it might’ve just come too early for Celtic, though. A positive result would be fantastic, and I’m predicting another draw to get us going in the Europa League.

Read more: Could Celtic tap into Russian market again? Here are 3 targets to keep an eye on.