Friday, July 16, 2010

SPL In Europe: Could Be Worse

There are no easy European games anymore...

...Unless you get drawn against an SPL side.

No, no. I jest.

We're on a roll now.

Well, a roll might be pushing it. But a winning start is all you can ask for.

Motherwell might not have raced out of the blocks against Breidablik last night but Ross Forbes' goal got them a win and they kept a clean sheet. Better to be rueing missed chances in a victory than in a defeat.

So Motherwell head to Iceland in good heart.

And the two European draws today have not been massively unkind to the three SPL clubs.

In the Champion's League Celtic face Portuguese debutants SC Braga, a clash that brings together the runners-up from Scotland and Portugal.

Clearly Celtic would have preferred to play the fifth placed from Luxembourg. But they've missed teams like Ajax, Fenerbace, Zenit St Petersburg and Dinamo Kiev.

It could be worse.

Of course the big problem for Celtic is that beating Braga sends them through to another round. So the Champion's League proper remains a big ask. But we knew that anyway, at least negotiating Braga would offer a confidence boost.

In the Europa League draw Motherwell will be heading to Norway if they can see off Breidalbik in the second leg, with Aalesunds FK waiting in the next round.

The Norwegian cup winners are making their European debuts this season. As with Briedablik they have the advantage of being well into their league season, lying fourth at the midway stage.

Again not easy. But could be worse. Providing the job gets done in Iceland of course.

Finally Hibs will play either Videoton of Hungary or Slovenian side NK Maribor who drew 1-1 in their first leg last night.

Again not powerhouses of the European game. Neither, of course, are Hibs.

But games that SPL clubs need to be looking to win if we're to start to show some improvement in Europe.

Fingers crossed.

Champion's League 2010/11 3rd Qualifying Round
SK Braga v Celtic (27/28 July and 3/4 August)

Europa League 2010/11 Third Qualifying Round
NK Maribor or Videoton v Hibs (29 July and 5 August)
Aalesunds FK v Motherwell (29 July and 5 August)