Who are Celtic’s Champions League opponents…Lincoln Red Imps?

Celtic fans now have the answer to whether their next European trip will be to sunny Gibraltar or icy Estonia, and we suspect it’s the result that many of them were hoping for.

But while the sun, sea and iconic Rock of Gibraltar are already well-known, the country’s football scene is still something of uncharted territory for most fans. So, here’s a quick guide to what Hoops players – and fans – can expect in Brendan Rodgers’ first European tie at the helm.

Who are they?

Founded in 1976, they won promotion to the Gibraltar Premier League in 1984. Since then, Lincoln have won the league an astonishing 22 times in 33 years, establishing themselves as the powerhouse in Gibraltarian football.

And their current crop is the strongest outfit ever seen on the Rock, having won the title last season with an immense record of 25 wins, one draw and one defeat.

What’s the ground like?

Victoria Stadium – also used by the national side for friendly matches – is Lincoln’s home, and it’s a picturesque and distinctive (if rather small) ground.

Holding 5,000 fans, it also boasts an athletics track – and backs onto Gibraltar Airport. So there’s always chance for a bit of plane-spotting if there’s a break in play!

The star men

It’s hard to look beyond striker Lee Casciaro, affectionately dubbed ‘the King of Gibraltar’. He’s netted 198 goals in 204 league outings for the side and scored the winner as Lincoln knocked out Andorra’s FC Santa Coloma in last season’s Champions League first-round qualifiers.

However, their hero so far in this European campaign has been the versatile Joseph Chipolina. Equally adept at left-back and on the wing, he scored in both legs as Lincoln knocked out Flora Tallinn 3-2 on aggregate in the first-qualifying round last night.

Can they trouble Celtic?

There’s a fair chance that the uber-attacking Imps can sneak a goal at some point, especially in the opening leg, with the artificial pitch surely giving the hosts an advantage.

However, despite the fact they do possess quality, Lincoln’s ageing team will be no match for the pace and trickery possessed by the likes of Moussa Dembele and Leigh Griffiths, with regular defensive pair Roy Chipolina and Ryan Casciaro having a combined age of 65.

In truth, the Gibraltarian outfit shouldn’t pose too many issues to Rodgers’ men. They may nick a goal, but are likely to be out-passed, outran and outclassed by the Hoops. That means the best value here could be on backing Celtic to win and both teams to score.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Dave Burin

Dave graduated with an MA in English Literature at Durham University, and worked in marketing before joining the Ladbrokes News team. A Man United fan and avid groundhopper, he’s also an ardent follower of Rugby League. You can usually find him at a ground near you, clutching a big cup of tea.