Celtic’s return to the Champions League group stages for the first time since 2017 will be one of the highlights of season 2022/23.
The players, the management team and the fans will no doubt be desperate to hear the music of the Champions League anthem played once more at Celtic Park, and the Hoops support will generate an incredible atmosphere that will hopefully be matched on the park by the team.
Being realistic though, as it stands, even if the Hoops make a few more signings before the transfer window deadline, the Bhoys are going to struggle in the biggest competition in club football.
The Hoops are going to be in Pot Four of the draw, and there is a chance that the team could get drawn against three teams who are of a far higher standard than that which Celtic play at.
The aim should be to finish third in the group stage and qualify for the Europa League, but at this stage of the Celtic evolution under Ange Postecoglou that might be asking too much of the current squad, even though they will no doubt give it their best.
Should Celtic finish bottom of the group, the team will exit European competition altogether, and that would be a blow to the Hoops, but it could help Celtic domestically, as with all the group stage games being played before the World Cup begins in November, the Hoops could have extra time to concentrate on domestic football in the second-half of the season.
That is now what anyone at Celtic, and the fans, will want to happen, as the hope is that Celtic can achieve European football after Christmas for the second season in a row.
But you have to be realistic about these things, and Celtic might well finish bottom of the Champions League group. That happened in Brendan Rodgers’ first season at the club, and that was with a Celtic team who went on to win an invincible treble, and are a better side than the current Hoops team is.
The hope is that Celtic can do well in the Champions League and finish third in the group. But it doesn’t have to be a fatal blow to the season if Celtic finish bottom of the group, and lessons are learned for season 2023/24.
Having to concentrate only on domestic football is no bad thing, and hopefully that could give the Hoops the opportunity to win the league, return to the Champions League again and this time really make an impact on the competition.