Monday 16 September 2019

Celtic aim to keep Europa destiny in their own hands

Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile
Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers. Photo: David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Roddy Forsyth

For both Celtic and Rangers tonight's Europa League action will have a significant impact on their chances of remaining in the tournament beyond Christmas. Celtic are away to Rosenborg, who have yet to acquire a point in Group B, while Rangers meet the Group G leaders Villarreal at Ibrox.

The sections themselves present a marked contrast, with a span of 12 points between Rosenborg and the Group B leaders, Salzburg. Celtic sit in third place, level on points with Leipzig but behind on the head-to-head results between the teams. If Celtic win in Trondheim and Salzburg beat Leipzig, Brendan Rodgers' side would move up to second by a three-point margin.

There is though the questionable circumstance of two Red Bull franchise clubs being in a position to control their own destinies by collusion. Naturally, this prospect has been rejected vigorously by both camps, but the fact that Uefa have permitted the teams to play in the same section was bound to evoke memories of the infamous 1982 World Cup meeting of West Germany and Austria in Gijon, when a 1-0 win for the Germans ensured that the two sides would progress at the expense of Algeria.

In practice, though, the best way for both Red Bull teams to progress is by their own efforts, not that Uefa can take credit for that. Should Celtic and Salzburg each prevail this evening, the Hoops would require only a draw against the Austrian side when the pair meet in the final match in the east end of Glasgow on December 13.

Rosenborg have just clinched their fourth successive Norwegian championship but Celtic are entirely familiar with their opponents, this being the fourth meeting of the teams after two Champions League qualifiers and another encounter at Parkhead in the group stage of the Europa League.

Celtic won both home matches, 3-1 and 1-0, while the other meeting in Trondheim ended goalless, a result which Rodgers does not want to see duplicated on this occasion. "We hope their title celebrations will have been tiring, but we know we have a big test," he said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Rosenborg v Celtic, live, Virgin Media Sport/BT Sport 3, 5.55

Telegraph.co.uk

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