- Celts Date With Dutch Destiny
~~~~~~~~~~ Official TC Match Preview ~~~~~~~~~~
Weekend's Hatrick Hero Turnbull and the Bhoys Celebrate
(Celtic hold 2-0 goal advantage after first leg)
Thursday, 26 August 2021
Celtic travel across the North Sea for the return Leg in their Play Off tie with AZ Alkmaar on Thursday. With the prize of a place in the group stage up for grabs, should the Bhoys be able to convert a 2-0 home victory into a two-legged one in this return fixture with Dutch side, there is a lot riding on this outcome.
And coming off yet another impressive 6-0 display against St Mirren at the weekend, the Hoops should be full of confidence going into this critical European tie.
Liel Abada at the double against St Mirren
The importance of this game cannot be understated, as it will have a significant bearing on Celtic's season in determining which European campaign they will be embarking on, but also it will be important as there is the small matter of a showdown at Ipox with the defending League Champions this coming weekend, so the Hoops will be wanting to go into that match full of confidence and in the kind of form that has seen them scoring 24 goals in 6 matches this month so far.
These are 2 crucial games before the International break.
But for all that, it's important not to take eye off the ball and look to the weekend, as the Hoops must deal with the immediate threat of AZ Alkmaar.
Although the Celts came within inches of very likely putting the tie beyond Thursday evening's hosts, had they grabbed a third goal last week, this is still very much a live tie and it must be treated that way accordingly.
As for AZ Alkmaar, they could prove to be a tougher proposition on their own patch than what they were last week in Glasgow.
The hosts will come into this match still stinging off the Hoops' victory last week, and not only that, but as they had their match at the weekend against Fortuna Sittard postponed, meaning that they will have been able to focus all of their attention on the coming visit by the Bhoys this week.
Added to this is an impressive record at home, where Alkmaar have not been defeated since January. However, as was highlighted last week, their current side has been significantly altered from last season, as this new Alkmaar side have not been tested on their own patch in a competitive match yet this season.
Ange Postecoglou took the opportunity to rest a couple of players at the weekend, rotating James Forrest and Tom Rogic out of the starting line up against the Paisley side, both of whom are fit and ready, and is further buoyed by the availability of Ryan Christie also for this second leg.
However, Celtic will not be able to call upon the services of new signing Josip Juranovic, who is cup-tied for this round, as the Croatian international featured for Legia Warsaw last week in this same competition.
For the hosts, manager Pascal Jansen will welcome the return of winger Jesper Karlsson, who missed the first leg through suspension, and after AZ's Eredivisie match at the weekend was postponed, they will have had time enough to ensure his squad are rested and ready for Thursday night.
Tom Rogic & James Forrest could return after being rested
By the Numbers
Last Time Out
Celtic Park, 21 August 2021
Celtic Park, 18 August 2021