On Thursday evening they make a long trip to the Czech Republic to face off against Sparta Prague, and anything but a win will leave the Hoops with a mountain to climb in their efforts to qualify for the knockout stages of this season’s Europa League.
Neil Lennon’s men have taken just one point from their opening three fixtures in the competition this term, and will be eager to avoid a repeat of their last meeting with Sparta – a 4-1 mauling at Parkhead earlier this month.
Who: Sparta Prague v Celtic
What: UEFA Europa League – Group H
Where: Letna Stadium, Prague
When: 5.55pm, Thursday November 26th
How to watch
As usual, BT Sport will be broadcasting the Bhoys’ latest European escapade.
The match will be shown on BT Sport 3, with coverage beginning at 5.30pm.
Alternatively, Celtic TV will be offering audio coverage via their subscription packages.
Who to watch
Sparta put on quite the display when the two sides came up against each other on Bonfire Night, and the man providing most of the fireworks was Lukas Julic. The homegrown has nine goals in 12 matches across all competitions this season – including a hat-trick at Parkhead.
Elsewhere, David Moberg Karlsson looked full of running out on the wing, while the experienced Broeck Dočkal is more than capable of contributing a goal or two from the heart of midfield.
Since beating Celtic three weeks ago, Sparta have struggled to find their groove in the Czech league. Consecutive defeats to Viktoria Plzen and SK Dynamo have left their 100% domestic record in tatters, and they now find themselves four points behind city rivals Slavia Prague at the top of the table.
Perhaps most worrying for the Czech side, however, is that they shipped seven goals in those two matches, having conceded just six in their opening six league games.
This month’s 4-1 defeat was actually the first time that Celtic have come up against Sparta in their history.
Prior to that clash you’d have to go back 53 years for the last time that the Hoops played a team from Prague. The Glaswegian giants beat Dukla Prague 3-1 over two legs in the 1967 European Cup semi-final, and of course, went on to lift the trophy that year, overcoming Inter Milan in Lisbon in the final.
In terms of their last trip to the Czech Republic, manager Neil Lennon was actually an unused sub in a 1-0 defeat to FK Teplice in the UEFA Cup back in 2004. Martin O’Neill’s men picked up a 3-0 win in the reverse fixture at Parkhead to progress through that tie, but were eventually knocked out by Villarreal in the quarter-finals.
As far as other connections between Celtic and Sparta go, former Hoops midfielder Jiri Jarosik started his career in Prague, leaving the club in 2003.