This is Not the Champions League. #UEFA

UEFA

Celtic are back in action tonight,  the second-leg of the first of four qualifying rounds to get to the UEFA Champions’ League Group Stages.

We are already 3-0 up from the first leg against Alashkert of Armenia and tonight should be a formality.

How skewed are UEFA in the decision making of their qualifying process that whoever wins between Scotland and Armenia’s champions are playing 8 games to qualify in the group stages when there are 26 direct entries to the group stages including 4 from England, 4 from Spain and 4 from Italy,  3 from Germany and 3 from France.

This is not a whinge saying that the above is not fair.    If that’s how UEFA want to play the game then that’s up to them.

What am I saying is that this is no longer the “Champions” league and should be renamed accordingly.

Tonight,  the walk from Dalmarnock train station along the wide thoroughfare of the Clyde Gateway with the stadium looking magnificent in the distance always brings pride in my heart and a smile on my face.

Mon the hoops.

Underdogs and Politics! 

What a game that was last night!

Celtic hosting and at times outplaying Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League.  

The 3-3 draw with last years EPL runners-up was as exciting as it was unexpected.  

I think it’s fair to say that most fans were expecting a defeat and will be happy with the result. 

It’s the group of death, were Barcelona and Man City are expected to take first and second and Celtic are expected to fight for third place with Borrusia Monchengladbagh. 

Comparing Celtic’s and Borrusias results against Barcelona, 7-1 and 2-1 defeats respectively,  probability is that Celtic will finish bottom of the group and exit all European competitions before Christmas. 

But at Celtic Park anything can happen. 

Yesterday Celtic were fined 10,000 Euros by UEFA for the display of “illicit” banners.   The display largely from the Green Brigade fans group. 

Ten grand out whilst earning a 500 grand payment for the draw against Man City.  

Some might say what was the point of the fine?

But like playing the game itself there are rules and they need to be enforced. 

I think the club was lucky that the fine was so low,  but the point being we wouldn’t have been fined at all if the Green Brigade had kept their political agenda to themselves. 

Yes the Green Brigade did campaign for various Palestinian charities,  admirably raising 170k and the visibility of the plight of the Palestine people. 

I agree with their stance,  I contributed to their fund.

But will they pay the fine which they brought to the club. 

No .. didn’t think so. 

Seems to me that the Green Brigade are using the club as a vehicle to serve their attention seeking political agenda whilst taking  absolutely no responsibility for their actions. 

If they weren’t,  they would have organised their campaign, raised their funds but left the politics and flags outside the stadium. 

Barcelona, Real Madrid, who the ..

UEFA

It’s been a long year and I’ve only had 3 days holiday so far.

I’m due a break … or three.

As it happens today the draw for the group stages of the UEFA champions League is made and Celtic are pot 4 and will face one opponent from each of the other 3 pots,  detailed below.

My choices ..

Pot 1 – Paris Saint-Germain as I love Paris and haven’t been for a few years.

Pot 2 – Atletico Madrid as I’ve never been to Madrid and have wanted to go for ages.

Pot 3 – Borussia Monchengladbach as my dad used to play against them when he was stationed in Germany during his national service and still talks fondly of his time there.

Did you notice that none of these choices is based on the football content and the likelyhood of getting a win?

Who cares .. we are there thats all that matters.

I’m not actually expecting a win or to qualify for the knock-out stages,   but if we do or make 3rd place and qualify for the Europa knockout stages and have European football after Christmas then that will be a bonus.

Hopefully we don’t get Barcelona,  fantastic city,  but I’m fed up beating them! 🙂

 

Mon The Hoops!

 

Champions League pots

Pot 1: Real Madrid (Spain), Barcelona (Spain), Leicester City (England), Bayern Munich (Germany), Juventus (Italy), Benfica (Portugal), Paris Saint-Germain (France), CSKA Moscow (Russia).

Pot 2: Atletico Madrid (Spain), Borussia Dortmund (Germany), Arsenal (England), Manchester City (England), Sevilla (Spain), Porto (Portugal), Napoli (Italy), Bayer Leverkusen (Germany)

Pot 3: Basel (Switzerland), Tottenham Hotspur (England), Dynamo Kiev (Ukraine), Lyon (France), PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands), Sporting Lisbon (Portugal), Club Brugge (Belgium), Borussia Monchengladbach (Germany)

Pot 4: Celtic (Scotland), Dinamo Zagreb (Croatia), Monaco (France), Besiktas (Turkey), Legia Warsaw (Poland), Ludogorets Razgrad (Bulgaria), FC Copenhagen (Denmark), Rostov (Russia)

 

 

Keeping Politics Out Of Paradise?

Israel_Palestine_Flag

Where do you stand on the Israel / Palestinian conflict?

Do you believe that Israel are bullies and the Palestinians are being suppressed?

Or

Do you believe that Israel is fully within it’s rights to occupy the Gaza strip and to defend itself from Palestinian terrorists?

I expect that if you have an allegiance to either group then you’re views are already entrenched and no amount of discussion will change your view.

Personally, I believe that in most discussions, if you say black and I say white, then the answer is some form of grey, a dark grey or a light grey is in the detail but grey none-the-less as there are few absolutes.

The only absolute I subscribe to is that violence is not acceptable at anytime, by either side.

The counter-points being the right to defend yourself, which either side will obviously utilise to justify their attacks on the other.

Pathetic really .. I would like to believe that only a political solution can resolve this issue, however this is unlikely with both sides so ingrained in their point of view.

It’s like kids, fighting, sometimes, you need to be the adult, take away their toys, skelp their arse and tell them to behave.

My hope is that the UN eventually recognise Palestine as a full state, prevent Israel from controlling it’s borders and we all move along together.

Tonight Celtic play Hapoel Beer Sheva of Israel in the UEFA Champions League.

Traditionally Celtic are the under-dog of Scottish Football , we were historically the anti-establishment team.

Continue reading “Keeping Politics Out Of Paradise?”

Out Of Europe?

Welcome

Tonight Celtic play a home tie against Lincoln Red Imps of Gibraltar and are already trailing by a 1-0 defeat in the first leg.

If Celtic fail to overcome the “minnows”,  thats it,  game over,  no parachute into the Europa League.and the end of the Europe Adventure for another year.

Pretty degrading for former winners of the European Cup?

Not really .. thats the reality of how far we have declined.

Who is to blame for that decline?

Continue reading “Out Of Europe?”

Champions League My Erchie!!    …  #Football #Celtic #UEFA

Tonight my team Celtic take part in the UEFA Champions League Second Qualifying round.

I’m looking forward to the occasion and have great memories of our previous Champions League experiences,   win or lose it’s been fantastic just being there. 

But when that theme tune based on Zadok The Priest belts out in the stadium and the crowd go wild then there is no better place to be than Celtic Park on a Champions League night.
Watching it on tv just does’t compare.

Sitting in the house watching your nearest rivals compete is a sickener .. a real punch in the guts and you want them to fail .. because thats what rivalry is .. us to win,  you to fail.

See all the “Support the Scottish team” and all that  “good for Scottish football” bullshit .. get a grip .. but don’t confuse this with bigotry .. see my separate post on rivalry.

Of course,  I’ll support the Scottish team and want Aberdeen etc to do well in all European competitions but not that defunct team who used to be our closest rivals,   not then, not their tribute act now,  not ever.

But I might be about to contradict myself!

The UEFA Champions league has a number of stages :- 

Group where 22 teams get directly entry because of their countries coefficients,   10 teams are then added from the third round play-offs.   these contain the real big boys of Barcelona, Bayern Munich etc.  But also some lesser  known teams such as FC Zenit who are through as champions of their countries and not because of their own club coefficient.    

Thats fair enough.

The earlier rounds,  third, second, first are ,  with no offence intended ..  populated by countires and teams that are largely obscure and / or perhaps only recently became part of the European Union

Whats not fair enough,  is that the “bigger” countries get as many as 4 teams with direct entries into the group stages,  4 teams for Spain for direct entry,  5 with Valencia in the Play-offs,   3 for England and Germany,  or 4 with an additional team entering at the 3rd qualifying round.

Take Manchester United for example,  4th position in the English Premier League but qualify for the Play-Off round.   Whilst Champions of lesser know countires are largely filtered out in the earlier  qualifying rounds.

Thats a compete nonsense,  if you want to calll this The Champions League.  

Am I complaining?

Not about the fact that money talks and there are 4 English and 5 Spanish teams in the competition etc.

I am complaining that the coefficients already applied for the Spanish teams is 4.457 and the English teams at 4.35 before a ball is kicked where as Celtic and all Scottish teams get a mere 0.1.

That to me is an unfair bias,  which is self serving and the countires with more teams,  will continue to earn more points and it is exceptionally difficult for the smaller countries to make an impact as their probability of getting through each of the qualifying stages is negligible.

Should I hope for Scottish teams to do better?    

Yes I should,  and I do,  all except you know who if they ever qualify.  Their previous incarnations financial doping already caused my team to lose out on the oppportunity to compete.

So tonight,  I’ll enjoy the occasion,  even if we are a “diddy” team playing against another “diddy” team.

I’ll cheer on my team and will hope that we can get to the group stages and hear Zadok resound around the stadium .. because that is pretty special.

Just please stop calling it The Champions League because it isn’t.

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The link below, is when The European Cup was a sporting competition where only the champions of the European countries or current holder were allowed .. Now its just a commercial enterprise skewed to favour the countries who already dominate the European game and ensure that they continue.

http://youtu.be/e7ON3mMMFSs

Celtic – Father And Son!

Hello to you!!

Tonight the world famous Glasgow Celtic play some relatively unknown team from Turin, I think they are called Juventus or something like that?

Seriously tho, these two giant teams of the world stage play in the Champions League knockout stages at Celtic Park tonight.

I am so looking forward to going to the game with my son. A pizza and a couple of beers at Parkhead Forge before the game and down early for a sing-song.

When Celtic last played Juventus back in November 2001, I’d not long split form my ex-wife .. 911 had just occurred in September that year.

Days that you don’t forget…. or should that be always remember?

My boy was 12 years old and such a huge fan already. He knew all the players names, for both teams, probably far too much FIFA on his playstation or Football Manager on the PC.

Going to the football was a great reason to keep us close, great for male bonding and showing him a bit of life and building shared experiences.

What a night that was, those stars of the world stage, Del Piero, Nedved, Trezeguet came to work their magic at Celtic Park and put up a good fight .. but lost.

What a team we were back then, Larrson, Sutton, Moravcik, Mjallby, Balde, Petta , Lambert and last but not least Neil Lennon often unsung but sweeping up in a midfield holding role.

A 4-3 victory to Celtic over these European giants, but we still lost out on the Champions League and dropped to the UEFA cup, where we had a fantastic run to the final in Seville losing to Porto.

Those days, are days that live long in the memory of a 12 year old boy and his old da.

Him sitting on my knee to keep warm, stuffing his face with pizza and all the guys around him patting hm on the head.

Almost 12 years later, we’re still in the same seats, same guys sitting around us .. but now my wee boy is 23, 6’2 and has a degree in MicroBiology from Glasgow University.

I am so proud of him .. even although he still robbing The Bank Of Dad on a regular basis .. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Son, if someday, you ever read this site .. you know I love you and memories are made of nights like these. I’m sure you will remember it more than I.

As for the football, obviously I hope we win .. but I don’t really care .. it’s the shared memories that are far more important.

Bring on the Juve!

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