Celtic began last season with perhaps their biggest disappointment of the entire campaign. They would sustain a 7-0 defeat to Barcelona and have many highs, but their embarrassing moment might well have been their first leg loss at the second qualifying round of last year’s Champions League to Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar.
The semi-pro side made up of police officers and the like beating them made for terrible reading for fans of the Hoops and made for great reading for all of their enemies. Celtic must heed those lessons here if they are to ensure there is no repeat come Friday.
Friday will see them face another semi-pro side in Northern Irish champions Linfield. The Belfast side will welcome the Bhoys to Windsor Park for the match, and Celtic will have to be ready for a volatile atmosphere immediately as they will have no fans there to help buoy them on.
One thing that has to changed from last year’s loss is the finishing. Celtic had a lot of chances to score, but they just could not knock the door down. That will be unacceptable here, and they can’t afford any further embarrassment.
Concentration will also be needed at the back at all times. This is just how life is at the top of the pyramid in world football. If Celtic are to get their coefficient back up, they need to start smashing through teams in order to get out of this round for good, and that means not giving sides a way into the game.
By doing these two things, Celtic can avoid making the same mistakes that we made last season and they can advance much more comfortably toward the group stages than they did last.