Those nippy, one-upmanship sorts who look over each other’s hedges to decide who has the best ornamental garden. And who has their work cut out to avoid their prize petunias withering in the undergrowth. As it turned out, both Glasgow clubs drew groups intensely colourful, pungently fragrant but that, inevitably, also had some thorny prospects.
Celtic, in landing the club that it seemed every one of their players and every one of their supporters craved, earned nothing short of a Bernabeu bouquet.
You would be forgiven for thinking that the collective willing by those of a green-and-white hooped disposition somehow made it inevitable, made it happen, that Los Blancos – otherwise current holders and mightiest of the mighty in Real Madrid – were the pot one team Ange Postecoglou’s men were placed in Group F alongside. It is 42 years since Madrid last appeared at Celtic Park. Changed days, and not just because the competition was then the European Cup and Celtic have played two rounds to face off against them in the quarter-finals.
Back then, the Spanish leviathans had won only the ultimate European club prize, eh, just the six times. Now, following their comeback-kings successes over England’s finest that culminated in May’s final triumph over Liverpool, they boast 14th titles. A ridiculous haul. Plum doesn’t begin to describe that draw for Celtic. Possibilities offered, meanwhile, is the term to describe Postecoglou’s men also having RB Leipzig and Shakhtar Donetsk for company in Group F. Celtic could succumb to both, that is a given, but equally they have beaten both at Celtic Park in recent memory. Moreover, the war in Ukraine could impact on Dontesk’s competitiveness in forcing them to play their home games at Legia Warsaw's Stadion Wojska Polskiego in Poland.
The contrast between Celtic’s section and their bitter rivals Rangers’ was inescapable. Even with Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s team appearing simply not to know their limitations in continental competition, the relative strength of Group A when set against Group F, would not seem to offer the Ibrox men the same outside chance of top two qualification as their ancient adversaries. It is certainly all glamour though, and it was impossible not to home in on Rangers going Anglo following their heroics in Eindhoven. And not just any old Anglo clash - the Lord spare us any hackneyed “Battle of Britain” labelling. It is amazing to think that Liverpool and Rangers have never met competitively, the same, curiously, true of Napoli. An Italian club with serious designs of Serie A this season, just as Jurgen Klopp’s men will surely recover from their early season wobbles to push for a second Premier League title in four years.
Meanwhile, it won’t just be Dutchman van Bronckhorst who will be re-acquainted with old faces as a result of his club being pitted against pot one opponents and Dutch champions Ajax. There is a delicious subtext to these group encounters owing to Calvin Bassey’s £19million move from Rangers to the Amsterdam club in the summer.
Rangers will have their work cut-out to make any sort of impression in Group A. Yet, as they have shown this year with merely reaching the group stages and the Europa League final, it would be foolish to count them out. Conversely, Celtic’s capacity for erring in continental competition means it isn’t wise to make too much of their prospects even with their group along the lines their followers desired. The only one certainty for both is that while the Scottish game may appear blossoming with the pair in the Champions League together for the first time since 2007, the competition will never be a bed of roses for them.