Give Us a Cluj

James Forrest with the away goal last weekI’m pretty sure most of the planet can see through Dan Petrescu this week. His press conference prior to tonight’s second leg was like playing a game of cliche bingo.

The referee favours Celtic under the floodlights at Celtic Park. In other words, put some doubt into the referee’s mind so he maybe gives them the 50-50 decisions instead of us.

It will take a miracle for Cluj to beat Celtic. Really Dan, the tie is finely poised at 1-1 and that was after you took the lead. You know fine well that you score at Celtic Park at all and the away goal is wiped out. You probably don’t need reminding that the last time you brought a Romanian team to Glasgow you won 4-1, and actually the home game also finished 1-1, albeit that was the other way around and in a group stage.

Celtic are like Barcelona because we create so many chances. Yeah, lay it on thick, hope that we believe the hype and get cocky whilst trying to get the most out of your own players to match up to it. Funny you should mention Barcelona for a game at Celtic Park, the whole of Europe sat up and noticed when we beat them in 2012 after all.

And then there was probably our media’s favourite quote, the one that says the Celtic team are full of players who can go on to a higher level. Yeah, thanks, that’s what we want to hear during a transfer window. It’s bad enough that our own media continually try to shift on our players at this time of year without you joining in. But if it puts a distraction into the minds of those players as they dream of a big money move then all the better for you I guess.

Cluj had the luxury of resting most of their first choice team at the weekend whilst still winning 3-0. We, on the other hand, had to come from behind to win 5-2 at Motherwell with only a few key players rested, most of whom came off the bench later anyway. That resounding win meant twelve league goals in two games, and twenty five goals in our seven competitive matches so far.

We’ve won six of those seven, with last week’s draw in Romania the other match. Win tonight and we’ll be through to face Slavia Prague to decide which group stage we’ll play in for the rest of the calendar year. But winning won’t be easy if last week is anything to go by.

Of course, we’re at home for this second leg, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll be able to finish the job. The backing of the home fans usually helps us, but if things aren’t going to plan it can work against us too. Our record after a 1-1 away draw is reasonably okay though, but it’s not without disappointment.

The last time we came back with a 1-1 draw was against Suduva last season, but the 3-0 victory at home ensured we made it through the Europa League group stages. Prior to that it was Astana who lost out to a last minute Moussa Dembele penalty just as the tie appeared to be heading for extra time.

Go back to Ronny Deila’s time in charge and you’ll find we came back from Maribor with a 1-1 draw, only to lose 1-0 at home. Gordon Strachan’s Celtic brought back a 1-1 draw against Spartak Moscow and we had to go all the way to penalties to knock them out. Martin O’Neill’s Celtic lost out in extra time at Celtic Park to Bordeaux in his first season after a 1-1 draw in France in the first leg. And if we keep going back, Atletico Madrid beat us behind closed doors in 1985, but then again that’s the one where we didn’t have the twelfth man.

On the positive side for Celtic, Jozo Simunovic, Mikey Johnston and Hatem Abd Elhamed are all deemed fit and ready to play in this match. Hopefully a tight defence will be in place and if we can stop Cluj from scoring at all then we’ll definitely be progressing. With any luck we’ll make it slightly less nervy on ourselves by scoring a few goals of our own.

We certainly have the personnel to do it. James Forrest scored in Romania and again at the weekend. Ryan Christie, Callum McGregor, Scott Sinclair, Olivier Ntcham and Mikey Johnston have all got goals from midfield while both Odsonne Edouard and Leigh Griffiths have been getting them from up front too. Even Kristoffer Ajer has been getting in on the act!

We are more than capable of getting the result we need tonight. More than capable of scoring, more than capable of stopping them from scoring. But we also know how these games don’t always go to plan, we’ve all seen it supporting Celtic over the years.

Hopefully tonight is one of the positive nights we all want to remember.

Krys (Twitter @krys1888)

This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. A1907 says:

    We gave you the break! :))

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