Glenn Gibbons: Celtic were safe bet given sense of the occasion

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ANYONE familiar with Celtic’s long-established predilection for the spectacular gesture at significant moments in history is likely to have regarded the 9-1 available about the Scottish champions against Barcelona as the bet of the (admittedly infant) century.

Such exceptional performers as Victor Wanyama, Fraser Forster, Adam Matthews and Tony Watt notwithstanding, the plungers would have recognised that the mere fact that the match coincided precisely with the week in which the club was formed 125 years ago would be sufficient to make victory a virtual walkover.

This is a club which, through the decades, has clearly developed an uncanny sense of occasion. It could be said to have begun with their golden jubilee season, which ended with their capturing the one-off Empire Exhibition Cup in 1938. This would be followed by the St Mungo Cup, staged to mark the Festival of Britain in 1951.

Two years later, the Coronation Cup, celebrating the accession of the new queen, would be added to the collection. The 100th Scottish Cup final, in 1985, would be a foregone conclusion the moment the Parkhead side made the rendezvous with Dundee United. And Celtic’s centenary season, in 87-88, would, naturally, by marked by the league and Scottish Cup double.

And so to Wednesday. On reflection, Barcelona hadn’t a prayer.