- Hoops Now Face a Real Challenge
~~~~~~~~~~ Official TC Match Preview ~~~~~~~~~~
Jota is swarmed by the Bhoys after scoring in the 4-0 derby demolition on Saturday
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Tuesday, 6 September 2022
On Tuesday night Paradise will bare witness to something that has not been seen in more than 40 years. The Hoops are set for a showdown with the reigning European Champions, Real Madrid, in the opening Group F Champions League clash.
Practically all of the biggest clubs in European football have visited Celtic Park over the years, including Barcelona, Juventus, Liverpool, Bayern Munich, PSG, AC Milan and Manchester United, to name but a handful.
However, not only will this be the first time in 42 years that the Hoops will take on Real Madrid, this is also the first time in the Champions League era that Celtic will be able to test themselves against the reigning Champions from the previous campaign, as is will be the case this week.
It is a great opportunity for Ange Postecoglou's side to prove what they can do against the best there currently is, and there can be no better preparation for a game like this than to have come off the back of a comprehensive 4-0 victory over the city rivals at the weekend.
And to make this clash even more mouth-watering has been the form of both teams at this early stage of the season, with both coming into this contest with 100% winning records intact and it promises to be a night loaded with attacking football.
O'Riley was at the heart of some superb play as the midfielder notched up two assists at the weekend
If You Know The History...
These sides first crossed paths in 1962, when a charity match was arranged between Jimmy McGrory's Bhoys and the legendary Madrid side of that era, featuring the likes of Puskas, Gento and Di Stefano. And while Celtic went down 3-1, no lesser figure than Puskas himself was blown away by the atmospher, and was quoted as saying "That Celtic support, it amazed me. Never anywhere in the world have I seen such enthusiasm or heard such encouragement. I wish I could take them back to support my club in Spain."
The next meeting was in June 1967, when Celtic were invited to be the opposition for Alfredo Di Stefano testimonial match, barely two weeks after the Hoops had triumphed over Inter Milan in the European Cup Final. Indeed, Real Madrid had won the European Cup just the previous season, so it would be another remarkable achievement for Jock Stein's all conquering Lions if they could win once again. It was a terrificallly entertaining match by all accounts, with Jimmy Johnstone citing it as his best ever performance and Bobby Lennox providing the winning goal.
However, these sides have only actually met in competitive action once before - at the Quarter-Final stage of the European Cup in 1980. Billy McNeill's side sprung a major upset the first leg, having to weather the storm in the first half before completely turning the tables after the break, thanks to goals from George McCluskey and Johnny Doyle - only for the Spanish giants to turn it around, 0-3, at the Bernabeu Stadium in the return leg.
In an interesting sidebar into the worldview of football then and now, the Celtic Board turned down bids from TV broadcasters to show the game live, with the explaination that it wouldn't be fair on those who had paid to attend.
How times have changed!
1980: George McCluskey scores against Real Madrid on the way to a 2-0 win for the Hoops
Just the Facts of the Stats
- This is the first time Celtic have been in the Group Stages of the Champions League since 2017/18
- Celtic are coming into this on the back of 7 consecutive wins this season, including 6 in the League.
- The Hoops have scored 17 goals in the space of just over a week and conceded just once in that time.
- Real Madrid have won all of their first 5 games this season - including 4 in the League - but have yet to keep a clean sheet in La Liga as yet.
Leil Abada has scored five goals in the past two League games - including a brace at the weekend
The Bhoys will likely be without midfielder Yosuke Ideguchi (leg) in addition to doubts over defenders Carl Starfelt (knee) and Stephen Walsh (groin), as well as striker Kyogo Furuhashi (shoulder).
The injuries to Starfelt and Kyogo is likely to see Moritz Jenz and Giorgos Giakoumakis being featured in the starting XI for this showdown.
As for Carlo Ancelotti's side, they will be without Jesus Vallejo and Alvaro Odriozola through injury, however, they are likely to make other changes to the side that defeated Real Betis at the weekend, with the likes of Toni Kroos and Federico Valverde likely to come into the starting XI on Tuesday.
~~~~ Head to Head ~~~~
P: 2 W: 1 D: O L: 1
Last 2 Meetings
~~~~ 2022/23 Form ~~~~
W W W W W ~ W W W W W