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Celtic: Noel Whelan issues Champions League knockout stage claim

Celtic: Noel Whelan issues Champions League knockout stage claim -Celtic News

Former BBC pundit Noel Whelan has suggested that Celtic could now qualify for the Champions League knockout stages after securing a draw against Shakhtar Donetsk last week.

The Lowdown: Champions League results

The Hoops began their European campaign by welcoming defending champions Real Madrid to Parkhead. After a strong 0-0 performance in the first half, Ange Postecoglou’s side failed to keep Los Blancos out thereafter and Celtic fell to a 3-0 defeat.

However, the Premiership champions bounced back in their next game away to Shakhtar Donetsk, ending with a 1-1 draw in a game which saw numerous chances wasted by the Hoops.

The Latest: Whelan’s claim

Whelan, who used to work as a pundit for BBC Radio Leeds, believes that Celtic could still make their way through to the Champions League knockout stages, or alternatively progress even further in the Europa League.

Speaking with Football Insider, the 47-year-old claimed: “Anything can happen – but they’ll be fighting tooth and nail to stay in this competition.

“It’s the best competition in the world, the strongest competition in the world. They’ll be up against sides with much bigger budgets, but it’s a challenge that Postecoglou and his players are very much up to.

“These two games against Leipzig are must-wins. But they did well against Real Madrid for an hour and that is a good sign going forwards. Bringing back a point away from home is massive.

“If they finish third in the group and drop down to the Europa League then they can go forward – but I think they can stay in the Champions League.”

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The Verdict: Huge games coming up

Celtic now have to wait until 5 October for their next European clash against RB Leipzig, which will take place at the Red Bull Arena.

Away from home against regular group stage participants, this fixture is expected to be difficult. However, Leipzig currently sit bottom of the group with two defeats from two.

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Therefore, if the Hoops are to defeat their Bundesliga opponents, the opportunity is seemingly there for the taking.

With club action now parked until the beginning of October, Postecoglou will have time to assess Celtic in training to see how best to approach the double header against Leipzig, which now looks set to shape whether or not the Scottish champions emerge from their group.

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Article title: Celtic: Noel Whelan issues Champions League knockout stage claim

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