FC Astana stand before Celtic and the group stage of the Champions League. Last season the teams met in the Third Qualifying Round of the same tournament.
Celtic drew 1-1 in Kazakhstan followed by a 2-1 win in Glasgow. Having both disposed of decent teams this year around I think this could be a close encounter.
Celtic are a better team than last year despite not quite as sharp as we could be. Astana have dispatched Legia Waraw though so there is merit in that result.
I just can’t believe we’re playing the same team for the second year in a row. And don’t get me started on the distance!
Playing a team from Kazakhstan is NOT a European tie. However, these are the hurdles we have to face these days.
It isn’t enough to win your league outright to get into the group phase. You have to play some team from Central Asia or the Middle East whilst clubs finishing second, third and fourth can march into the group phase directly or by playing one qualifier which even if they falter at allows them to parachute into the Europa League.
There’s no help in the fact that our fellow Scottish clubs are an eternal let down as well. I had hoped Aberdeen would stay the course, but they must have thought they were going to Cyprus for a holiday instead last night.
We may have just eeked past Rosenberg, but given our injury crisis and the fact Rosenborg were half way through their season I’ll give our Bhoys a bit of a break. They don’t make the decisions to play these rounds.
Their efforts of last season were astounding. And after a very short break from a full on season they’ve come back in to do it all over again and much earlier than most clubs who are already secured in the Champions League.
So basically it’s the same story. A story we’re all too familiar with.
Long trips out of Europe in order to stay in Europe. Flying the solo flag for Scotland once more.