The Lowdown: Celtic await huge night
The Hoops begin their European campaign on Tuesday night, welcoming Los Blancos to Parkhead for what could potentially be a legendary occasion.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side are the reigning Champions League winners after beating Liverpool in last season’s final and they have a plethora of world-class names that Celtic will need to stifle, including Ballon d’Or contender Karim Benzema.
While Real Madrid will likely be many people’s favourites to prevail at Parkhead, the Hoops once beat the Barcelona of Lionel Messi, Xavi and Alexis Sanchez in Glasgow, so they ought not to be overawed by the visit of the current La Liga champions.
The Latest: McManaman talks up positive result
“I wouldn’t think it would be much of a shock. I think Celtic could easily get something out of the game.
“Real Madrid sometimes start this type of competition slowly. They always qualify from the group, but they can start slowly. Tuesday is the perfect opportunity. First game of the Champions League, the noise of Celtic Park.
“I think it will be a close game and I would be quietly confident about Celtic qualifying alongside Real Madrid.”
The Verdict: Into them, Hoops
This could be a spectacular night, with Ange Postecoglou side’s absolutely full of confidence after a perfect start to their Premiership season and buoyed by a 4-0 derby thrashing of Rangers at the weekend.
Granted, this is a far bigger challenge than they have faced in years, returning to the Champions League group stage for the first time since 2017, but the atmosphere will be electric and a vibrant attacking Hoops team could cause problems for Real Madrid.
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Also, as McManaman pointed out, Los Blancos aren’t immune from group stage shocks – it was only last season that they were beaten at the Bernabeu by Champions League first-timers Sheriff Tiraspol.
There are more important group stage matches in many ways, in terms of winnable fixtures which could aid Celtic’s qualification for the knockout rounds, but this feels like the most special game of the lot. What a night in store!
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