Celtic may have found their perfect match in the Europa League. The Bhoys have quite the contest on their hands featuring some challenge and hopefully, some lovely football.
Celtic didn’t get so lucky in the Champions League drawing. Group B wasn’t the perfect placement for the Hoops as a majority of play was controlled by the likes of Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich. Europe’s top competition seems to be controlled by elite money, something Celtic aren’t necessarily boasting on the level of some of Europe’s juggernauts.
The Celts finished third in Group B and it wasn’t even close. PSG and Bayern amassed 15 points each, while the Bhoys totaled and abysmal 3 points. As a result, a drop down to the Europa League seemed a perfect fit for the boys in green.
At least that’s what fans are led to believe. Celtic are going toe-to-toe with Zenit St. Petersburg in the Round of 32. The Bhoys host the Russian side at Celtic Park on February 15th, while the tie then flips to Russia for the second leg on the 22nd of February.
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Is this really better for the Celts? Zenit are no joke. The Lions from St. Petersburg have gone straight up against top clubs before, and have given them a tough time.
St. Petersburg don’t have the services of Hulk or Axel Witsel anymore, but they still boast talent to cause problems in top-flight competition. They haven’t lost in their last six matches including an impressive 3-1 win over Real Sociedad in the Europa League Group Stage.
Alexsandr Kokorin poses a huge threat to the backline of Celtic. 10 goals in the Russian Premier League and 5 in the Europa League isn’t something to skim over. Plus, Kokorin has 3 goals and an assist in his last 10 fixtures.
Oddly enough, however, Zenit have a huge gap between their next match and this moment in time. Unless I’m going crazy, their next contest is the first leg against the Bhoys in Februrary, giving Celtic a huge playing time advantage.
“The Scots are dangerous, particularly at home because they have such a crazy support.
“Celtic might not be so good away from home, but if you give them time on the ball, they can be a threat.
It should be an interesting two legs between Zenit and Celtic. Of course, the January window will have already gone by, so both squads might come back with some fresh talent.
Brendan Rodgers has some league play to worry about at the moment. Hamilton is the opponent on the 13th of December, while the Hoops then travel to Hearts on the 17th. But, you can bet that Zenit won’t slip too far out of Rogers’ mind.