Saturday, December 16, 2006

Mixed Fortunes for Old Firm in Europe


A novel feeling, watching a European draw in December and seeing two Scottish clubs come out. Israel’s Hapoel Tel Aviv should hold no fears for Rangers. True, another trip to Israel might not be everyone’s choice but the Ibrox side should be looking to progress from what is a pretty favourable draw.

And no that’s not an endorsement of the increasingly prevalent view that Rangers will be marching all the way to Hampden for the UEFA Cup final in May. That’s not going to happen, although the thought of it is probably a welcome distraction for their fans. Hampden has shut up shop as far as fairytales are concerned. Just ask Sir Alex Ferguson.

Celtic have a far more daunting task. AC Milan, although not on fire at the moment, are never going to be easy opponents. And Celtic’s away form in Europe would have made them underdogs whoever they met. I’ve heard more than one Celtic fan say that an 8 goal lead after the home tie should be just about enough to see them through the second leg. A draw or a one goal victory at Parkhead will be nowhere near enough at the San Siro.

For my money Celtic’s best bet was Arsenal. Despite Thierry Henry being the world’s greatest player, at least in the eyes of Thierry Henry, I think Celtic could have sneaked a result at home and then held on in the second leg.

But that’s all hypothetical now. It’s AC Milan and, I strongly suspect, the end of Celtic’s Champion’s League campaign.