Celtic disappoint ahead of season-defining Champions League test
Late draw at Ross County far from ideal preparation for Helsingborg trip
With Celtic strongly expected to canter towards the SPL title this season at 1/40, this season will be judged either a success or failure based on how they fare in Europe.
Being paired with Helsingborg in the last round of Champions League qualifiers gives them a genuine chance of making the group stage for the first time in four years, but the way in which they prepared for Tuesday’s first leg in Sweden wasn’t great.
A trip to SPL newcomers Ross County was presumed to prove one of their easier domestic tasks of the campaign.
However, the promoted club were unbeaten in 36 league games before welcoming the champions and threatened to hit 37 in the most spectacular fashion when a classy Richard Brittain free-kick handed them an early second-half lead.
Kris Commons salvaged a point for the Bhoys with seconds remaining in injury time to provoke surprisingly exuberant celebrations, yet Neil Lennon was far from impressed by the attitude of his players.
He said: “Some of the lads were going through the motions here, to tell you the truth, so I think the majority of them should be okay for Tuesday… Possibly Tuesday was in some of their heads, it’s such a huge game.
“But you have to be more professional than that. I didn’t think we were bad. Some of the passing was decent but the final ball at times lacked a bit of quality and there was a lack of urgency as well.”
Another contributing factor was the absence of key men like captain Scott Brown and chief goal-getter Gary Hooper, who are both due to return to training on Sunday with a view to returning against the Swedish title holders.
Celtic are 6/4 joint-favourites to claim victory in Scandinavia, though in truth a draw at 11/5 would likely be received as a perfectly acceptable result.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.