Five reasons why Celtic will struggle in the Europa League
Celtic head to Austria as outsiders for victory over an expensively-assembled Red Bull Salzburg side and things could be about to get a lot worse for the Bhoys in Europe.
Humiliated in the Champions League qualification stages and facing another season of largely uncompetitive football in Scotland, the Europa League is unlikely to provide much respite with the Hoops currently 1/2 to lose to Salzburg.
Here are five reasons you may want to consider taking up that bet.
An inexperienced manager
After Neil Lennon departed suddenly over the summer, Celtic searched far and wide for a manager, even going as far as approaching inexperienced club legend Henrik Larsson to take up the post.
But when the big Swede said no, the Hoops took the odd approach of appointing Ronny Deila – a manager with no experience outside of his native Norway. Tactically outclassed by the likes of NK Maribor and Legia Warsaw already in Europe, he may not be in the job for long.
A poor away record in Europe
A heavy defeat in Warsaw and a draw in Maribor highlighted one of the underlying problems for Celtic in Europe over the years – poor form away from Parkhead.
Celtic lost all four of their fixtures played on the road in the Champions League last season and until that kind of form is reversed, the Bhoys are unlikely to mount the kind of European campaign that saw them reach the last-16 of Europe’s premier cup competition two seasons ago.
Some bad recent results
A narrow 2-1 win over nearest rivals Aberdeen may have eased any concerns over their domestic dominance but Celtic head to Salzburg having won just one their last five competitive games in a record that should have alarm bells ringing.
That run, coupled with a poor showing in last season’s Champions League is concerning.
The lack of firepower
The departure of Greece international Georgios Samaras was keenly felt at Celtic Park, with the club ultimately failing to replace the former Manchester City man with a forward of any notable calibre.
Samaras was a key component of Celtic’s march to the knockout stages of the 2012/13 Champions League, where he became the first Hoops striker in the club’s history to score in five consecutive away games in Europe. With Anthony Stokes so far failing to impress on the continent and John Guidetti far from match-ready, goals could prove hard to come by.
Disharmony in the defence
Where once the partnership of Efe Ambrose and Virgil van Dijk was seen as the bedrock of Celtic’s success, recent developments have seen that partnership show signs of wear.
Van Dijk has made no secret of his desire to depart Parkhead with a move to the Premier League in mind while Ambrose has so far appeared tired for the Bhoys having featured for Nigeria at the World Cup. They could be exploited in Europe as a result.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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