Caution and confidence

This evening, European nights resume at Celtic Park. The match is a sell out and the fixture has just about every Celtic fan up to high doh.

Tonights opponents are none other than Inter Milan. The history between both clubs represents a symbolic peak in Celtic’s history.

In terms of European stature, Internazionale overshadow Celtic. Right now though they are not deemed to be at their best.

And that’s the problem because this perception that the current tenth placed Serie A club could be a pushover doesn’t sit well with me at all. As we have learned throughout the decades, the Italians are masters of mind games and well…gamesmanship.

To underestimate an Italian side would be nothing short of lunacy. Though there is a belief about Celtic right now that might just undo all of those Milano mind games.

Under Ronny Deila, Celtic have gone through some big changes behind the scenes. It hasn’t been plain sailing and not all have been on board from the beginning but the squad have knuckled down and the ship is on course.

Now we are beginning to see a different team to the one that embarked upon this European campaign way back in July 2014. This was something that Ronny himself said from day one and we’ve seen the evidence in the last few months.

The most interesting development has been the flow to the Celtic side lately. A higher tempo has become more apparent and the team are playing with more confidence.

These achievements have been displayed predominantly within the domestic game. However, Celtic’s current form remains unmeasured in European football.

When it comes to European matches it is a different offering altogether. And yet Celtic are in the last 32 regardless.

There is no doubt that Celtic have progressed from one end of the season to now. So for me, this will be a test to see just how far Ronny and his players have come.

Inter Milan may be 22 points of the top of Serie A but you can be sure that they will be up to the task. It would be naive to suggest otherwise.

You can expect some play acting from the opposition and some poor decisions from referees when it comes to European nights. Its all part of the mixture that comes with this type of fixture.

Regardless, Celtic must focus on their own game. I would apply caution going into this tie but I’m encouraged by the positivity about Celtic.

With the recent additions of Stuart Armstrong and Gary Mackay-Steven, the ability and depth in Deila’s squad has increased. That isn’t even taking into account the recent surge in form of Leigh Griffiths and Kris Commons.

Then there’s the growing presence of Stefan Johansen and Nir Bitton’s stabilising job in the midfield. These have all been valuable contributions to the cause.

Back when Celtic were competing in the group phase of the Europa League, it was frustrating that the then in form John Guidetti was ineligible for the competition. Now, he wouldn’t even be my first choice striker.

Don’t get me wrong though, I’m glad he is available but he needs to find those shooting boots again. As does his counterpart, Stefan Scepovic.

I think most would agree that it is a good time to face Inter. With all the historic value and the fact Celtic are playing and old foe, the game will attract a lot of attention.

Whatever result comes from tonights match you can be sure the fans will do us proud. Ronny Deila may have seen a European night at Celtic Park this season but he ain’t seen nothing yet.

Hail! Hail!

Stevie

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