“I said I know, it’s only Matchday 3, but I Leipzig”

So, we approach the third fixture in Group B of the Europa League with a little bit more verve. Sadly, Celtic will be going into this match without five key players and possibly a sixth.

Brendan Rodgers confirmed Kristoffer Ajer, Scott Brown, Leigh Griffiths, James Forrest (suspended) and Tom Rogic’s absences. There is also a doubt over Filip Benkovic.

That means opportunities for others to come in. Scott Sinclair, Ryan Christie, Lewis Morgan, Yousouff Mulumbu, Mikey Johnston, Jonny Hayes, Eboue Kouassi, Jack Hendry, Jozo Simunovic, Cristian Gamboa and Emilio Izaguirre are all options available to Brendan whichever way he decides to set up.

Celtic have never beaten a German opponent on their own turf. The 5th placed Bundesliga club will be a difficult test.

In their European history, the best Celtic have managed in Germany are three draws. 0-0 against Werder Bremen in 1987, 0-0 against Hamburg in 2009 and more recently a 1-1 draw against Borussia Mönchengladbach in 2016.

The odds are against Celtic. However, if they want to prove themselves in Europe then these are the odds they will have to overcome time after time.

Leipzig, like Salzburg, went far in this competition last season. Celtic were not so fortunate, suffering at the hands of Zenit St Petersburg who were in turn disposed of by, yes you guessed it…..Leipzig.

That said, Celtic are beginning to come good domestically. This happened either side of the Salzburg game which of course the Bhoys were winning until a second half capitulation and red card incident.

These are the kind of issues Celtic need to stamp out. Before that match even kicked off I didn’t think we’d have a chance, but in the end we threw away a fighting chance.

Can Celtic beat Leipzig? Might be tough with so many form players out of contention.

It may also be too big an ask for the guys that haven’t played enough regular football this season. However, it’s also a good chance for those players to prove themselves and Brendan will be counting on that.

This may not be the Champions League, but for a club in our position we need start winning these matches to be taken seriously. Every defeat home or away is a backwards step.

The effervescence we’ve seen in our domestic performances recently needs to be channelled into our European game. We can’t get carried away, but that understanding, awareness and ruthlessness needs to be harnessed and applied to get the results against teams of a better standard.

Rogic’s omission would suggest that Brendan has one eye on the Hearts match on Sunday. It also appears to lay out his priorities which in basic terms means he may be willing to forfeit this one for domestic progression.

Perhaps under the circumstances he does not think this is a game Celtic can win. Maybe with a full strength squad and more options he may see it differently.

After this match Celtic will have one away and two home games left to play in Group B. To snatch an away victory now would be a major boost at the half way stage of the group phase, but unlikely.

I’d take a draw right now, but I’ll be honest. I have absolutely no clue as to how this will go.

We could have beaten a few German sides on their own soil over the years, but we didn’t. I’d like to think that we will give a good account of ourselves at the very least.

“I said I know, it’s only rock ‘n roll but I Leipzig!”

Hail! Hail!

Stevie Mac

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