Why one Celtic player won't look at Champions League draw possibles

Celtic captain Callum McGregor believes the best way to think about the Champions League draw is not think about it.

Celtic's Callum McGregor has Champions League experience but doesn't see great relevance to past campaigns. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)
Celtic's Callum McGregor has Champions League experience but doesn't see great relevance to past campaigns. (Photo by Craig Foy / SNS Group)

All manner of permutations have been set out as to the teams the pot four Scottish champions could be grouped in Istanbul come Thursday 5pm, UK time. Celtic supporters have been giving themselves the heebie-jeebies at the prospect of a tough-as-they-come threesome of Real Madrid, Liverpool and Napoli. Or even an equally daunting trio of Paris Saint-Germain, Tottenham Hotspur and Internazionale. And, in contrast, getting over excited in overcooking potential for progress should the section Ange Postecoglou’s men are placed in comprises Eintracht Frankfurt, Sevilla and FC Salzburg. Or even Porto, RB Leipzig and Shakhtar Dontesk.

McGregor has stated previously that he would relish drawing holders Madrid - the Bernabeu side the only real grandee of the European game not to front up to Celtic Park this millennium. However, the midfielder has steered clear of delving any deeper, perhaps to avoid causing his palms to moisten. “This is the top level of European football, it’s a great challenge and we’re all looking forward to it,” the 28-year-old said. “I’ve tried to stay away from studying who we could get from pots one, two or three. There are so many top teams in there, we have to take it as it comes. They are all good…”

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Celtic have not been so good in their more recent Champions League sorties. But, of the current squad, only James Forrest, Anthony Ralston and McGregor could bear any scars from the whackings by Barca and PSG in the two campaigns under Brendan Rodgers between 2016 and 2017. Seven goals conceded both in Paris and the Catalan capital. That was then for the man who led his team to the title in his first season wearing the armband. ‘It’s a new group and we want to be successful in our own right,” said McGregor over Celtic’s return to the exalted stage after a five-year absence. ‘We don’t want to dwell on teams from the past or anything like that, good or bad. We’ve got some nice experience in the squad as well, but it’s a new team and we want to develop and learn together, and create our own experiences.”

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