Celtic head to Europe with high expectations

Neil Lennon

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Glasgow Celtic’s journey to the continental football started early this season, but a shock defeat against surprisingly competitive Hungarian side Ferencvaros saw the Hoops stumble out of the Champions League contest and into the qualifying round to the Europa League. Ferencvaros took Celtic by surprise in the one-off qualifier, after the Scottish giants had comfortably beaten the Icelandic champions KR Reykjavik 6-0. The Hungarian challengers then held on to a narrow 1-2 win to send Celtic packing.

The European League qualification round should provide no surprises, with Celtic traveling to face Latvian reigning champions Riga FC. Latvians ousted San Marino minnows Tre Fiori in the previous round narrowly 1-0 and are looking to reach the Europa League group stages in Celtic’s expense. The club, founded in 2014 boasts plenty of international talent with four Brazilians in the squad as well as plethora of Latvian national team players. However, the difference in quality is astounding for the Scottish side and anything else but a victory would be a disaster for Neil Lennon’s group.

Celtic has continued where they left off last season in the Scottish Premiership, just as expected. They are currently undefeated after seven games and in the second place with a game in hand against the leading Glasgow Rangers. In preparation for their trip to the continent, Celtic took on Livingston on Saturday in a 3-2 victory. The result is complimenting the visitors, who were under a heavy barrage throughout the game. Livingston took the early lead in the 16th minute by a penalty, but Callum McGregor and Ryan Christie took the home side ahead before the 25th minute. Albian Ajeti added his fourth in five appearances to give Celtic a comfortable 3-1 lead on 52nd minute and the rest was more of a walk in the park. Livingston crawled one back late in the game, but Celtic never looked troubled whatsoever and routinely took the 3-2 victory.

After playing in Riga on Thursday, Celtic will make a fast return to Premiership action already on Sunday against the third placed challengers Hibernian. The Edinburgh club have started well, being in the third place with two points difference to Celtic after eight games played.

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