Celtic’s European Dream (of Group Stage Elimination) Is Back On
Though their team was unable to reach the Europa League by conventional means, Glasgow Celtic fans have plenty to smile about this afternoon – though we can’t say for sure how long the good mood will last.
September 13th, 2011
Following the upholding of a ban placed on Swiss Cup winners Sion by UEFA, Celtic travel to Madrid in their place this week to face one of the hot favourites for the competition outright, Atletico. It’s sure to be a tricky night for both teams – with the Spanish side unable to fully prepare ahead of the outcome of the UEFA ruling as to their opposition, and Celtic coasting their luck even to reach this phase of the Europa League.
Sion ran out winners of the two-legged contest against Celtic, with a tough draw in Glasgow followed up a week later by a win against an admittedly weakened side (of ten men for the last 89 minutes or so). A total of six Sion players were ruled ineligible for these ties due to an earlier transfer embargo placed on the side, which then led to the decision by the European football governing body that has seen Sion ejected from the competition.
Bizarrely, Sion don’t consider UEFA the authority in this matter, as a Swiss judge ruled this week that they were to be reinstated into the competition; the situation is a little bit like taking your ball home only to be reminded that the ball belongs to Michel Platini, and he’ll make you leave the continent if you don’t give it back…as you do.
Regardless of trivial matters like expulsion from competition, Celtic now have the chance to justify their European status in Group I, which also features Rennes and Udinese, play-off conquerors and victims of Red Star Belgrade and Arsenal respectively. A betting type wouldn’t fancy Celtic’s chances of getting past the group stage, but there’s always the potential to pull off a shock or two, beginning on Thursday night in Madrid.