Celtic v RB Leipzig (Europa League)
8th November, 2018
Celtic Park, Glasgow
It’s the big one. Celtic face don’t-call-them-Red-Bull Leipzig at Celtic Park on what will likely be a make-or-break night in the Hoops’ European campaign. It’s Return of the Jedi; it’s Rocky 3; it’s… the Europa League Group Stages. Soon to be renamed Euro Super Division Tier 2. Never before have the stakes been this high between Britain and Germany.
This is effectively a must-win game for the Hoops if they have any ambitions of making it to the Europa League last 32. Both sides come into the match in stellar domestic form, so it should be sexy (or highly depressing). In the away tie, Celtic were mangled by injuries and lacking in cohesion. With good form, home advantage and Leipzig missing some key players, there could be no better chance for Celtic to get a result against FC Energy Drink: German Branch.
It’s all about living up to the occasion. Will the pressure give Celtic wings?
Stats & Facts:
- Celtic have kept 10 clean sheets in their last 15 games.
- Leipzig have won 3 European away games out of their last 10.
- Celtic last won against a German side in February 2003, when the Hoops defeated Stuttgart 3-1 at Celtic Park.
- Leipzig are, statistically, the most-hated team in Germany (there’s proof, probably).
I have bread older than RB Leipzig, so Celtic have only faced them once since their inception in 2009: the 2-0 defeat in Saxony two weeks ago
Celtic are without Scott Brown (calf), Leigh Griffiths (mystery), Jozo Simunovic (talent) and Cristian Gamboa (fell into a wormhole). Eboue Kouassi and Daniel Arzani are both ruled out until the end of the season, with ACL injuries rendering them MIA (SMH).
Despite his recent good form, I can see Ryan Christie dropping to the bench in place of Olivier Ntcham’s more imposing physicality. This is of particular importance given Scott Brown’s absence. The back four have looked very solid in recent weeks and months and they need to be again if Celtic are to take anything from this game.
RasenBallsport Leipzig (what’s that name, again!?) are in the midst of an injury crisis, with talented attacker Timo Werner joining Swedish playmaker Emil Forsberg on the sidelines. Also missing for RBL is joint top-goalscorer Yussuf Poulsen, who is ruled out after falling over the spelling of his own name. Former PSG attacker Jean-Kevin Augustin could potentially add to their injury woes up top – he is also doubt ahead of tonight’s game.
Despite their injury troubles, Leipzig have an abundance of young talent in their squad and are particularly dangerous with their narrow, intense press. Willi Orban and Ibrahim Konaté are a strong, composed defensive partnership and Bruma is a dangerous attacker – as Scotland fans found out last month.
- Celtic vs. Themselves: If Celtic can avoid any of their characteristic slip-ups or European defensive lapses, they give themselves a considerable platform upon which to build. Given RB Leipzig’s tendency to put teams under intense pressure, it is hugely important that Celtic remain organised and composed.
- Leipzig Players vs. Celtic Park: We have seen it so often: a poor away performance from Celtic, completely subverted by home advantage. A full house in the East End goes a long way towards gaining points, and it will be interesting to see how RBL’s youngsters fare in the Celtic Park cauldron (even with their experience of German stadia atmosphere).
- Me vs. The Hot Drinks at Celtic Park: I swear to fuck if I get my tongue burned by shitty watery tea, I’m never going back. Sick of this shit. And those overpriced Kit Kat Chunkys. Jesus Christ.
Prediction: Celtic 1, RB Leipzig 0
(original logo illustration by Frankie Mitchell)