The forthcoming tie in the Europa League will be anticipated by the Celtic supporters, not necessarily as a match that Celtic would expect to win, but more as an opportunity to compete with a club who are more than capable of beating Scotland’s most successful football club. Zenit fans should look forward to a competitive match in a spectacular atmosphere in a very friendly and hospitable city that will provide the fans with a good evening out as well as an enjoyable match.
Celtic resumed the Scottish domestic season only on 20th January after a short winter break and easily won their 3rd round Scottish cup home tie against lower league Brechin City 5-0. Since then The Bhoys, as Celtic are known, have played three league games in quick succession, winning them all, the most recent being a 3-1 defeat of Herts at home in front of 56,296. Herts are one of the SPL’s better sides but Celtic easily saw them off and the Glasgow club are now 14 points clear at the top of the Scottish league ahead, of Rangers and Aberdeen. Celtic have two more games before the Europa League game so hope to be up to speed for the match with Zenit.
Celtic have history dating from 6th November 1887, when the club was formed at a Glasgow church by an Irish priest in order to help feed the poor people of the east end of the city. The club are closely associated with Ireland and many of the club’s supporters descend from Irish immigrants, that’s why you can expect to see Irish flags rather than Scottish, among their fans during both games.
Without doubt, the club’s most successful achievement was winning the European Champions Cup on 25th May 1967, defeating Italy’s Inter Milan 2-1 in the final. The game was widely recognised as one of the finest attacking displays from any team and they became known as “the Lisbon Lions”. As a young boy I recall my Father leaving for the journey to Lisbon, he, along with a busload of Celtic supporter’s from our town, Hamilton, travelled for many days to attend the Final, unfortunately for some reason the bus arrived in Madrid of all places! Necessitating a hastily arranged flight to Lisbon for some of the fans, my Father included, fortunately arriving in Portugal for the match at halftime, enabling them to participate in the fantastic spectacle of Celtic’s achievement!
They were the first side not from Southern Europe to win the European Cup and in that period from 1966 to 1974 Celtic reached two more European finals & five semi-finals, quite an achievement for a team made up of players from a radius of 30 miles from Glasgow and from a country of only 5 million people. Celtic have also won the Scottish League Title on 48 occasions, most recently in the 2016–17 season and the Scottish Cup 37 times.
Today Celtic are very much the dominant side in Scotland, currently going for our sixth championship in a row. However the vast wealth in the top European leagues does not allow the clubs to compete effectively with other major European sides, the total prize money for winning the Scottish league is around £2M pounds and to put this into perspective the club relegated from the English Premier League receives in the region of £100M.
Celtic have successfully qualified for the group phases of the Champions League in the last few years and these financial rewards have allowed some progress to enhance the team with better quality players joining for the supporters to enjoy. Since the decline and relegation to the third division of Celtic’s main rival, Glasgow Rangers (Zenit fans will remember them from the UEFA Cup final in Manchester) in 2012 due to financial irregularities, Celtic have been denied stiff competition at home and this has affected the team’s performances in Europe.
The team are managed by former Liverpool boss Brendan Rogers and the team’s star players include former Man City winger Scott Sinclair, Scotland striker Leigh Griffiths, Belgium international defender Dedryck Boyata and French U21 striker Moussa Dembélé.
Against Herts the team lined up in a 3-5-2 formation
De Vreis (GK)
Ajer, Simunovic, Boyata,
Forrest, Brown (c), Ntcham, Eboue, Tierney,
The Zenit fans should look forward to attending the match at Celtic park along with 60,000 other Bhoys supporters and the match will be a sell-out. On paper it looks like a competitive & enjoyable game that both sides will be hopeful of winning!
Celtic v Zenit will take place this Thursday at Celtic Park, Glasgow. Kick-off is at 23.05 St. Petersburg time.