UCL Preview: Celtic vs RB Leipzig

UCL Preview: Celtic vs RB Leipzig


Less than a week after locking horns in Germany, Celtic and RB Leipzig reconvene on Tuesday evening, with both sides having some catching up to do in Champions League Group F.

The Hoops were beaten 3-1 at Red Bull Arena, and sit bottom of the table on just one point from three games, so victory is essential if they are to leapfrog Leipzig and contend for a place in the last 16.

Losing for the sixth time in their last seven Champions League matches, Celtic’s flaws were exposed last Wednesday, as they fell to defeat against an RB Leipzig side struggling for form this season.

Ange Postecoglou’s men had just halted a three-game winless run – including fixtures against Group F counterparts Real Madrid and Shakhtar Donetsk – with victory at home to Motherwell, but despite Jota scoring an equaliser just after the interval, an error from goalkeeper Joe Hart played a part in their demise thereafter.

In all, Celtic have lost 17 of their last 23 matches at Europe’s elite level, which demonstrates the difficulty faced by the Glasgow club when stepping up in class, but they at least managed to get back on track straight away with a Premiership win at the weekend.

After starting on the bench in Germany, Greek striker Giorgos Giakoumakis scored the Bhoys’ winner in a dramatic finale against St Johnstone on Saturday, as the hosts produced a stoppage-time equaliser and Celtic seemed set to drop points for the second straight away match domestically.

However, Giakoumakis grabbed the winning goal in the fifth added minute to earn all three points and consolidate his side’s place at the top of the table.

Their chances of progressing from a Champions League group for the first time in a decade, though, hang by a thread, and are almost totally reliant on getting the better of third-placed Leipzig on Wednesday. With the Celtic Park faithful roaring them on, such a result cannot be ruled out, but it will take a sharp turnaround from the events of last week.

Having been beaten on both of their previous visits to Scotland’s second city – by Celtic four years ago, and at Ibrox in last season’s Europa League semi-finals – RB Leipzig will need no reminder that a tough task lies in wait at Parkhead.

Andre Silva’s double strike and Christopher Nkunku’s opener may have given Die Roten Bullen a first victory of their Champions League campaign in the reverse fixture, but they have won only three of their last 11 matches in Europe’s top club competition and still trail Shakhtar Donetsk by a point in the Group F standings.

With Real Madrid apparently set to sprint off into the distance – the reigning champions have won all of their games so far – one place in the knockout stages is up for grabs among the group’s other three contestants, which makes at least avoiding defeat in Glasgow a clear objective for new coach Marco Rose.

A 4-1 loss in the club’s Champions League opener to Shakhtar Donetsk brought an end to predecessor Domenico Tedesco’s reign, and since Leipzig-born Rose’s arrival, their inconsistency has continued.

Nonetheless, they have now put together a three-match unbeaten run, with their win last Wednesday being sandwiched by a 4-0 success against Bochum and Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Mainz, the latter of which saw Nkunku rescue a point with an 80th-minute equaliser.

After they failed to progress from the Champions League group stage last term, all Leipzig’s focus will now shift to claiming six points from six against Celtic and setting up a straight fight with Shakhtar for a spot in the last 16