Big European match this midweek so here’s an optimistic look at the possibilities for Friday’s draw should Celtic achieve a result in Finland on Wednesday.
If Celtic go through then we will be in the seeded half of the Champions group. This means we can’t be drawn against the other teams in that half of the draw, which at the time of writing look likely to include FC Basel, Anderlecht and Dinamo Zagreb. BATE Borisov were the seeded team in their match but could only get a 1-1 draw at home to Debrecen of Hungary, so that one could go either way.
There are five teams in the unseeded half of the Champions group – the teams Celtic could get drawn against. CFR Cluj will be one of them if they manage to hold on to a 1-0 first leg lead against Slovan Liberec in the Czech Republic. Partizan Belgrade have to overcome a 0-1 deficit at home against AEL Limassol if they are to be in it, but the other three look pretty clear cut. Helsinborg are defending a 3-0 away lead against Slask Wroclaw, Kiryat Shmona travel to Neftchi Baku with a 4-0 lead and Luxembourg champions Dudelange are unlikely to overturn a 4-1 deficit to Maribor, even if they are at home in the intimidating atmosphere of the Stade Jos Nosbaum (capacity 2,558, average attendance 2 – Jean Pierre et Delores Bonqueurs et le chien Roveur). Incredibly, the Dudes managed to beat Red Bull Salzburg in qualifying round 2 (1-0 and 3-4 after extra time) but their usual aggregate scorelines at this stage of the competition read like updates from the test match at Headingley.
Going by coefficients our potential opponents would line up this way in difficulty order:
CFR Cluj – 18.764
Kiryat Shmona – 14.974
Partizan Belgrade – 14.350
Helsinborg – 12.680
(Debrecen – 7.950)
NK Maribor – 6.424
(Slovan Liberec – 5.570)
(AEL Limassol – 5.099)
(Cluj would replace Dinamo Zagreb in Celtic’s half of the draw if Debrecen manage to beat the Croatians)
Celtic’s coefficient, remember, is 32.728.
Meanwhile, in tonight’s domestic competition, Sevco (coefficient 0.000 as they have never played a game in Europe) meet East Fife (coefficient same as Sevco). Fifers chairman Sid Columbine (to use his stage name) is quoted in today’s papers as saying, ‘’Rangers were expecting 40,000 before it got moved, but they reckon it could be between 20,000 and 25,000 because it’s now on a Tuesday night. We’ve got a lot of supporters not going because they have work in the morning and it disappoints us greatly – the two teams, in actual fact.”
Were they really expecting 20,000 dairy farmers, postmen and bakers from Fife to make up half the crowd?