And so it begins…as with every long, adventurous journey an element of initial small steps must be taken, today both my beloved Celtic and my fathers favourite club, Motherwell, received the formal acknowledgement of where these, hopefully infant, steps will happen to take place.
I must say all though no tie during the precarious qualifying stages for the UEFA Champions League can ever be considered as an easy one or a formality, I am much happier with our drawn opponents than I’m sure Motherwell fans will necessarily be of theirs.
Celtic will face either HJK Helsinki or Icelandic side KR in the third qualifying round of the Champions League whilst Motherwell will face off against Greek side Panathinaikos.
The draw this morning which took place in Nyon, saw Celtic paired with either the Finnish or Icelandic champions dependent of course on the second leg results of a game scheduled for next week.
It will take an enormous turnaround in that tie if KR are to be our opponents however as HJK currently hold a ‘healthy’ 7-0 lead from the first leg. If I had the fiscal means to be attending an away encounter in this qualifying process, Finland would be where I spent my time planning to visit, that much seems fairly certain given the huge task facing KR of the Icelandic league.
Motherwell, in their champions league debut, have been given a fairly stiff examination of their credentials and aspirations to play in the tournament proper, group stages I mean.
Motherwell have a tough fixture ahead having drawn Greek side Panathinaikos. Like Motherwell the Greeks are certainly not conventional entrants to the ‘Champions League’ having finished fourth in their league but that should not be any indication of weakness given the pedigree of the club and its far greater experience of operating at this and indeed at higher levels of European competitions than the second Scottish entrants to the competition.
I do however wish Motherwell, as goes without saying that I do Celtic, all the best of luck.
I’m just delighted it’s back to football issues occupying more and more of our attention and less talk of insolvency and toxic brands in our game.
To long and distant travels and hopefully many yet to come…congratulations Celtic and Motherwell, this is the fruits of last years efforts coming to harvest, may it be a bumper crop for you both!