- Hoops' Dare to Dutch Dream
~~~~~~~~~~ Official TC Match Preview ~~~~~~~~~~
Alistair Johnston in action during the 3-0 win over Dundee at the weekend
Stadion Feijenoord, Rotterdam
Tuesday, 19 September 2023
The Champions League is back, and Celtic begin their campaign with an away trip across to the Netherlands to face the Eredivisie Champions, Feyenoord, on Tuesday evening.
The Hoops took another step in finding their groove on Saturday, with a 3-0 win over Dundee. In truth, the win could've been even more comprehensive, but for hitting the woodwork on multiple additional occasions, and even then only through a much improved second half display.
One of the positives taken from Saturday for the Bhoys will be having recorded a third consecutive league clean sheet. Considering the challenge that lies ahead, the importance of this cannot be understated, especially considering the current piecemeal nature of the defence as it stands.
That challenge will surely test the resolve of the Celts' collective defensive efforts and not just for the relative lack of Champions League experience for the likes of Alistair Johnston, Liam Scales and Gustaf Lagerbielke. Nat Phillips has made a handful of appearances for Liverpool at this level, so once again attention will be on Joe Hart with all of his vast experience to marshall the Bhoys' defence.
The Celtic faithful will be eager to see how the team progresses this season after last year's campaign with did so much to flatter but ultimately fell short, and the hopes will be that the side can be more clinical when presented with opportunities - a failing that proved costly, 12 months ago.
And for the Celtic manager, he also has a point to prove. The Irishman has won just twice in 18 outings at this level, but will hope that the experience of guiding his Leicester side to the UEFA Conference League Semi-Finals in 2021/22 will help him better understand what it takes to succeed at the continental table.
Joe Hart will need to be at his best if the Hoops are to stop a free-scoring Feyenoord
As Celtic have been slowly adapting to life under the stewardship of Brendan Rodgers again, Feyenoord have certainly hit their stride in recent weeks after a slow start.
While the reigning Dutch champions were held to draws in the first two matches of the Eredivisie this season, but have since piled on the style, with a 6-1 win over Almere and a 5-1 win over Utrecht immediately before the international break, but have picked up where they left off, this time producing another 6-1 triumph, this time over Heerenveen.
It's not just the weight of goals, it's how they've been spread around that has been so impressive for Arne Slot's side, and highlighting how Celtic will need to be aware that the threat can come from anywhere.
That said, there are some potential factors to take into account that means this is no mere foregone conclusion. For starters, this is Feyenoord's first appearance in the Champions League since 2017.
Secondly, the Rotterdam club have failed to keep a clean sheet since the the opening day of their league campaign.
And thirdly, and perhaps just as importantly, the hosts will be going into this game without a recognized regular striker to lead the line - through suspension and injury - which could disrupt the kind of attacking style that has been working so well for them at the domestic level.
While the Hoops struggles in the Champions League in the past have been well documented, perhaps just maybe the timing of this game could turn out to be a rare opportunity for the Bhoys.
1970 European Cup Final: Davie Hay in action during the only previous meeting between these sides
Remarkably, this is just the second time these two sides have met in a competitive European competition. The only previous encounter was the 1970 European Cup Final, when the Rotterdam side were able to find an extra time winner to get the better of Jock Stein's side, 2-1.
By the Numbers
- Celtic come into this game on the back of three consecutive clean sheets - which is the first time they've achieved that since January.
- The Bhoys have won two of the past six games against Dutch opposition - but have not won away from Glasgow against any Dutch team since August 2001.
- Brendan Rodgers will want to improve his record of two wins in his 18 Champions League outings - once during his time with Liverpool and the second during his first spell at Celtic.
- Eleven different Feyenoord players have already shared in the scoring of 19 goals in the Eredivisie this season - 17 of which have been in their last 3 games!
Santiago Gimenez has already scored 6 times this season, but is suspended for Tuesday's match
The Bhoys will continue to be without Liel Abada (thigh) as well as Maik Nawrocki (hamstring), Stephen Welsh (ankle) and Mikey Johnston (back). Marco Tilio and Cameron Carter-Vickers are still working their way back to full fitness, however neither is expected to make a full return til early October.
As for Feyenoord, manager Arne Slot has a little bit of thinking to do as the hosts will be without leading scorer Santiago Gimenez through suspension, while their own Japanese hitman, Ayase Ueda, is ruled out through injury. This likely means that either Brazilian winger Igor Paixao or Newcastle loanee Yankuba Minteh will be having to lead the attack.
~~~~ Head to Head ~~~~
P: 1 W: 0 D: 0 L: 1
Celtic v All Dutch Opposition
P: 17 W: 8 D: 2 L: 7
~~~~ 2023/24 Form ~~~~
W W D L W ~ W W W D D