Celtic are heading into arguably their most important fixture of the Champions League group stage, as they will be facing Shakhtar Donetsk in Warsaw in midweek. If the Hoops can get a win on this occasion, it would raise their hopes of qualifying to the next round. Even a draw would be a decent result, but a loss would be a hammer blow, especially after losing the opening game against Real Madrid.
Thus, it feels like a lot is riding on the result of this game. Shakhtar surprisingly won their first game of the Champions League campaign against RB Leipzig. That led to the German club sacking Domenico Tedesco and appointing Marco Rose. They seem to have bounced back since then and beat Borussia Dortmund 3-0 this weekend. Another worry for Celtic.
Celtic should be confident of their chances of getting the better of Shakhtar Donetsk though, thanks to their spirited performance against Real Madrid.
On the other hand, Shakhtar Donetsk’s young players already seem to have an eye on the game against Celtic as well. As reported by 67 Hail Hail, their manager Igor Jovicevic told the club’s official website:
"“I prohibited the players to think about Celtic, but, you know, they are young kids, we are a young team, and they think about the fact that the Champions League match is in four days, not intentionally, but somewhere in subconsciousness. And, maybe, somewhere they lost concentration for today’s game. I couldn’t blame them, this is a normal process.”"
Shakhtar Donetsk manager makes Celtic admission
While the Shakhtar Donetsk players might have been losing concentration in their previous match thanks to being distracted by the upcoming one against Celtic, the Hoops players have had a week to think about the game.
The match this weekend against Livingston was called off due to the passing of Queen Elizabeth II and thus, when the Hoops take to the pitch next, it will be in Europe.
Both clubs will know the importance of this game. Now, it remains to be seen who ends up coming out on top. Whoever it is, will give their Champions League qualification hopes a huge boost by doing so. Of course, a draw is a very real possibility as well.