THERE are two ways of looking at Celtic’s draw in the Champions League.
On the one hand, you could say it’s been a wee bit unkind to them because they have two of the European superpowers in Bayern Munich and PSG in their section.
On the other, you just have to marvel at being in Group B with them and absolutely embrace it.
For me, first of all, I was thrilled to see them in the draw on Thursday evening.
Celtic belong in the tournament, and they will be the better for last season’s experience when they were in with Barcelona, Manchester City and Borussia Moenchengladbach.
Sure, they finished bottom of the pile, but I don’t expect that to be the case this time.
Anderlecht complete the section and I fancy Celtic to finish ahead of them. So I have a quiet confidence Brendan Rodgers and his players will still be involved in European football after Christmas.
Looking at the quality and depth of the Bayern Munich and PSG squads, logic dictates they should be competing for first and second spot.
But you must never rule out Celtic.
You only have to go back to November, 2012, when Victor Wanyama and Tony Watt scored in that amazing 2-1 victory for Neil Lennon’s team over Barcelona.
That occasion only goes to show that dreams can come true. So, I will not dismiss their chances, particularly with that incredible home support behind them.
I think Celtic have been handed a really good opening fixture with PSG coming to Parkhead on September 12.
They finish up with a home fixture against Anderlecht on December 5. That’s more than decent.
But PSG coming to Glasgow to kick it all off is mouthwatering. The Celtic supporters must be ecstatic at the prospect of seeing Neymar and his team-mates in action.
And when I found out it was the opening fixture – and that Liverpool were not playing until the following night at home to Seville – my immediate thought was:‘Wow, I want to be there’.
So, I will ask the gaffer (my wife, Marina) if we can travel to Parkhead to see the game.
She loves her big European nights in Glasgow, so I’m sure she’ll give it the thumbs up. After that, all we need to do is secure two tickets!
The thought of seeing PSG playing Celtic under the floodlights, with a wee zip on the surface, is what it’s all about.
After that, it is Anderlecht away and back-to-back games against Bayern Munich.
The Germans are still a strong, strong side and they have a top-class manager in Carlo Ancelotti.
But I will be interested to see how they are without Xabi Alonso in the team. He will be a massive loss.
But, in forward areas, they have Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben and Robert Lewandowski. When they are all fit and on form, they are quite formidable.
Just to be a part of these European nights is so very special.
I have enjoyed so many occasions in the European Cup and Champions League over the years with Celtic and Liverpool as a player, manager and supporter.
From Anfield, the one that springs to mind is when Liverpool beat Chelsea 1-0 in the Champions League semi-final in 2005.
Luis Garcia scored the hotly- disputed goal, and it was a wonderful evening because Chelsea were the team to beat that year after Jose Mourinho’s arrival at the club.
And I was on the Celtic groundstaff the night they beat Red Star Belgrade 5-1 in 1968.
That was also memorable because it may well have been wee Jinky Johnstone’s greatest-ever game for the Hoops.
Let’s hope there are many more memorable nights to come in this campaign for Celtic and Liverpool. They are held in high esteem by their peers and deserve to be involved.
Liverpool have been drawn in Group E with Spartak Moscow, Sevilla and Maribor. There is plenty to like about this section, and I’d say Manchester United and Manchester City will have no complaints about the groups they’ve been drawn in.
But both Spurs and Chelsea have it tougher.
We want to see the British clubs doing as well as they possibly can, and they have all earned the right to feel optimistic about what they can achieve in their Champions League groups.
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