The Celtic skipper isn’t dwelling on the fact that very little is riding on the last group F game as far as the visitors are concerned. Already condemned to finish bottom in their group, it’s hardly the time for them to exhibit signs of timidness.
Even given the surroundings, it would be odd in the extreme if Ange Postecoglou suddenly decided to quell the adventurous spirit that has seen Celtic win admirers despite their struggles in the campaign to date. It would also mean contravening the manifesto set out in the fans’ anthem that invites Spaniards on “by the score” and then continues by accepting that Real Madrid and Barcelona might make “a famous bid” to unseat Celtic. The song goes on to record that such efforts are, however, rendered futile against the might of Glasgow Celtic.
Such sentiments might ring slightly hollow now as the Scottish champions reflect on a chastening return to Europe’s top table. But they’ve stuck faithfully to the principles maintained by the club throughout their history to at least go down swinging.
“100-per-cent right,” said Carter-Vickers. “We’ve attacked all the games in the group so far and we’ll look to do the same in the Bernabeu. We’ll have a go at Real Madrid.
“Every game you want to win, no matter if there’s something on it or not. It will be great for us to go to the Bernabeu – one of the most iconic stadiums in the world – and play there. We’ll want to win the game.”
As well as a famous testimonial match for Alfredo di Stefano, which they won 1-0 thanks to an inspired Jimmy Johnstone, Celtic have played just one competitive game at the stadium. That was in the European Cup in 1980 when at least they had something to defend. The fact they couldn’t protect a 2-0 first leg advantage, losing 3-0 in Madrid, says it all about the intimidating properties of the Bernabeu. In contrast to 42 years ago, they head to Spain under little pressure. With so little at stake, it might be a stage where they can express themselves.
While they will be up against an array of world class talent, at least Celtic have seen the last of Mykhailo Mudryk for a while. The Shakhtar Donetsk winger scored in both group matches against them. His equaliser on Tuesday was a particularly special strike from a very talented 21-year-old.
“He’s a big threat,” said Carter-Vickers. “We knew that before the game. But obviously it’s still hard to deal with someone of that kind of pace.”
Carter-Vickers agreed that Mudryk is one of the best players Celtic have faced in the competition. He represents the level they must aspire to.
“For a large part of our group this has been a new experience, playing in the Champions League,” he said. “It was always going to take a bit of time to adjust. But I think we’ve all grown in belief and become better players for the experience.
“We’ve still got another game to go and that will be another fantastic experience. But like I say, we also want to get a result.”