Forget the Bernabeu and the incessant talk of Real Madrid against Manchester United. Glasgow is where it’s happening, or as Neil Lennon put it: “Celtic and Juventus is the only show in town.”
This is what a true cup-tie is all about. The atmosphere is going to crackle and explode as the teams walk out at Celtic Park tonight – putting the Bernabeu clash to shame.
It is an incredible feat that Celtic has managed to pull off a last 16 place in the Champions League. The SPL is a very poor league and Celtic is rarely challenged by it. Rangers, the only team that could match them has been sent away for rehabilitation.
Therefore it is testament to the Celtic management, players, and indeed supporters, who can up their game so much when the Champions League comes along. A simple analogy of what they are required to do would be an amateur boxer being asked occasionally to step up and fight a professional over 12 rounds instead of another amateur at the usual three.
Let’s not forget that Celtic has already dealt with Spartak Moscow, Benfica and Barcelona in the group stages – even beating Barcelona at home and only losing in the last minute at the Camp Nou.
Celtic should be supported by all fair-minded fans of the game as it shows what a team with spirit and good management can achieve against all odds. It is a well-worn cliché about supporters being the twelfth man – but not at Celtic Park on a European night; when those in green and white hoops take to the field and hear and feel the fervor emanating from the packed stands – they will feel like world-beaters.
The only real concern I have about the game is whether pensioner Rod Stewart’s heart can cope with it all.