Celtic’s humbling and demoralising Champions League campaign continues in the Eternal City later today. The Hoops, keen to avenge their last-gasp defeat to Lazio in October, are eager to maintain their dwindling hopes of European involvement beyond Christmas.
Continued Champions League Struggles For Celtic
— SPFL (@spfl) November 28, 2023
Champions League Drought For Celtic
Brendan Rodgers has repeatedly stressed the importance of European advancement since his summer return. The much-sought Champions League progress targeted continues to elude a club stuck in a familiar tale of woe. Home comforts have provided fleeting moments of warmth, but tactical naivety and ill-discipline have ensured matchday five in the competition has become, to a certain extent, largely inconvenient.
Despite the gloom, Celtic are not mathematically out of contention in Group E – although an improbable turn of events would have to transpire to resurrect their campaign. Third spot and a Europa League berth in the New Year was the minimum target, and a victory in Rome by more than a single goal is likely required to prolong the fight a little longer.
Injuries Hampering Celtic For Lazio Clash
Celtic require little encouragement to play on the front foot, and their previous sequence of results in Europe ensures a bullish approach is necessary against the Italians. The unavailability of Reo Hatate, Daizen Maeda, Liel Abada, and Luis Palma has blunted attacking options – and insufficient quality in the makeup of the squad has made a challenging assignment even tougher.
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As Rodgers attempts to fashion a solution to his shortage of wing talent, he will at least be encouraged by Lazio’s domestic struggles. Salernitana recorded their first league victory at the expense of The Biancocelesti last weekend. Maurizio Sarri is encountering significant turbulence, and discontent is rising as his side languishes in 11th place in Serie A.
The Champions League has been somewhat of a salvation for the troubled Romans, though, perhaps a welcome distraction from domestic turmoil, and they remain on course to reach the last sixteen.
The Long Wait For a Champions League Win Could Still End This Year
It’s been seven years since Celtic last tasted victory in a Champions League match. They have two more chances this season to end their misery in Europe’s elite competition – with Feyenoord on matchday six, at home, penned in as a potential three points. Naturally, a victory in Rome is the primary objective for Rodgers’ men, but a competitive and encouraging display is almost as important.
Memories To Savour In Rome
They have had three men sent off in their two previous Champions League away games, effectively extinguishing hope of meaningful results. The Hoops displayed enough against Lazio at home to suggest a positive outcome should not be beyond them this evening, and, of course, their most iconic result in the last five years just happened to occur at the Stadio Olimpico.
Olivier Ntcham was the unlikely last-minute goalscorer on that occasion – and the travelling fans are overdue another night to remember.