This season’s UEFA Champions League season marks the first time in 15 years that both Celtic and Rangers have featured in the competition simultaneously. Oddschecker, which compares odds and provides free tips on European football, hasn’t predicted that the Scottish pairing will pull up any trees on the continent, but if Rangers’ recent exploits are anything to go by, we wouldn’t put it past either of them.
A lot has changed since 2007
The last time the pair were invited to football’s most elite dinner party, they both enjoyed success. Celtic finished second in their group, behind reigning champions AC Milan and ahead of Benfica and Shakhtar Donetsk. They would be defeated by Barcelona in the last 16 thanks to goals from Lionel Messi, Thierry Henry, and Xavi. No complaints.
And while Rangers didn’t manage to progress from Group E – finishing behind Barcelona and French champions Lyon – they did transfer over to the old UEFA Cup. There, they would defeat Fiorentina, Sporting CP, Werder Bremen, and Panathinaikos en route to the final. They would lose to an Andrei Arshavin-inspired Zenit St. Petersburg in the Manchester showpiece, but no one could take away from the Ibrox club’s achievements that season.
A lot has changed in the years since though, especially on the blue of half of Glasgow. In June 2012, Rangers were liquidated and relegated to the third tier of Scottish football. It has taken ten years for them to return to club football’s greatest competition.
What does this season have in store for the pair?
If Rangers’ recent Europa League exploits are anything to go by, we should write them off at our peril. They defeated Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig, Braga, and Red Star Belgrade en route to last season’s Europa League final – which they unluckily lost on penalties to Eintracht Frankfurt after dominating for long periods.
Before last season’s exploits, the club twice reached the last 16 of the same competition, improving Scotland’s UEFA coefficient to no end. In fact, it improved so much that the winners of the Scottish league last season progressed directly into the competitions group stages, with the second-placed team earning a spot in the qualifying section for the Champions League rather than the Europa League.
Celtic were the ones who benefited from their arch rivals’ hard work, however, winning last season’s Premiership at a canter. And with the raucous atmosphere at both Celtic Park and Ibrox, don’t be surprised to see both clubs in the knockout stages at the turn of the year.