How Celtic could have a party in the Champions League

A general view of Celtic supporters in the stands (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images)
A general view of Celtic supporters in the stands (Photo by Andrew Milligan/PA Images via Getty Images) /

Why is the Champions League so important for Celtic?

Celebrating victory with players, coaches and fans are always special. However, bring those celebrations to Europe and they will never be forgotten. Celtic have the tools necessary to enjoy a European campaign that will bring pride to the club. By learning from the past few seasons, Celtic may possibly have a party in the 2019/20 Champions League.

For the Glasgow club, European progress is more important than ever. Poor performances under Brendan Rodgers saw Celtic humbled in recent years by the European giants. Rodgers regressive style of football allowed some of the worlds finest players to run riot.

With an obvious game plan to sit back and soak up pressure, Celtic were rightfully torn apart due to the lack of ambition injected into the players. Unfortunately for Celtic, Rodgers never learned from his mistakes and continued playing a fearful style of football until he departed the club.

Plenty of sides have a few bad years but are confident that their time will come again. For clubs like Celtic, there is certainly more worry. Failure to progress in Europe has massive effects on Celtic. Less money and less exposure are extremely threatening.

It is hard enough for Celtic to compete with European sides due to the financial disadvantage they face. Money has always been a problem but the fortress that Celtic once had at Celtic Park is now gone. Every football fan around Europe feared the chance of their side playing away in East Glasgow.

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Not only has the fear of Celtic diminished across Europe but the magnitude of the entire club may diminish also. If Celtic are unable to frequently reach the Champions League group stage, then the Scottish giants may become unrecognisable to neutrals.

Where Rodgers went wrong

Thankfully for Celtic, Brendan Rodgers mistakes are very identifiable. The prioritisation of domestic trebles left the squad clueless when they came up against any top competition.

The lack of preparation was clear. Instead of bringing characteristics of their domestic dominance into Europe, Rodgers decided to play it safe and stick everyone in their own half. Trying to switch between ultra-attack in Scotland and ultra-defence in Europe was destined for failure.

Why there is optimism for the upcoming season

Although European progress is more important than ever for Celtic, it also looks more likely than it has for a long time. With Neil Lennon back, they have a man in charge that knows all about defeating giants. Enjoying a fantastic European campaign during his first spell at the club, Lennon has all the knowledge needed to put Celtic back in the spotlight.

Luckily for him, he also has remarkable talent at his disposal. Leading the line last season for Celtic was Odsonne Edouard. The Frenchman proved his worth on countless occasions as he frequently popped up with late winners that helped his side to their 8th successive title.

Fan favourites like Callum McGregor and Kieran Tierney and workhorses like no other. With the unbelievable work ethic and bags of ability, those two will prove vital next season.

Another youngster that is full of promise is Karamoko Dembele. Whether he will be given the chance to make his European debut is dependant on his progression with the squad. On the final day of the SPFL season, we saw exactly what he was made of.

A direct approach saw the wonder-kid test the Hearts backline any chance he could. No matter what, young Dembele is clearly a tremendous talent that could inject new life into Celtic.

Not only does next season look promising for Celtic because of the talent they have, but also because of who they no longer have. Mikael Lustig has ended his time with the club after seven and a half years. A faithful servant to the club was looking a gear behind everyone else for the past two years. Bringing in new talent to the defensive line may be all the difference.

Lennon’s approach is key

Lennon has all the materials he needs. But what he does with those materials will determine whether Celtic will improve. A key lesson that must be fully understood from Celtic’s past few campaigns is that they need to attack. This obsession Rodgers had to play 4-5-1 is why the squad struggled to make an impact. A regressive tactic enforced on the players made competing almost impossible.

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Celtic are going to concede, so they may as well attack and get some goals. The defenders at Celtic are simply unable to prevent top quality strikers from finding the net. The only way to win is to score more goals than the opposition.