What can Celtic expect from Alashkert in the Champions League qualifying round one?

0
Have your say

Celtic will begin their 2018/19 Champions League campaign in Yerevan, after Brendan Rodgers' side were drawn against Armenian champions Alashkert in the first preliminary round.

Alashkert won their league by six points last season and only missed out on a double on penalties, when they were beaten in the Armenian cup final by Gandsazar.
In Varuzhan Sukiasyan, they have a former Amenian national manager in the dugout.

Celtic have learned their first opponents in the Champions League qualifying rounds (Photo: AFP/Getty)

Celtic have learned their first opponents in the Champions League qualifying rounds (Photo: AFP/Getty)

The club have seen steady success since moving to Yerevan in 2013 from their previous home, Martuni; winning the Armenian Supercup in 2016 and three successive league titles.

Despite a relatively short history in European competition, they've already faced off against Scottish opposition.

READ MORE: Scott Brown blasts UEFA as he says Celtic’s challenge is toughest yet

Knocked out St Johnstone

Their first appearance in Europe came during the 2015/16 season, when they were paired with St Johnstone in the Europa League. Having deservedly beaten Saints 1-0 at home, an away goal at McDiarmid Park was enough to secure a famous aggregate victory over Tommy Wright's men.

In truth, St Johnstone should have progressed and only had themselves to blame for not doing so, having gone a goal ahead in Perth and seen the Armenian side reduced to ten men with 25 minutes to play.

Alashkert showed a resilience and a ruthlessness that Saints did not, however, and scored a crucial away goal 17 minutes from the end to seal their progress.

Although St Johnstone scored again to win on the night, they couldn't force a third to take them through.

READ MORE: Celtic drawn to face Alashkert in UEFA Champions League qualifiers

Alashkert's qualifying track record

While they were knocked out by Kazakhstan side Kairat Almaty in the following round, Alashkert have found their feet at a higher level since.

In last year's Champions League qualifiers, they dispatched Andorran side FC Santa Coloma in the first qualifying round and held experienced European campaigners BATE Borisov 1-1 in Belarus before losing 3-1 at home.

Celtic will deservedly travel to Armenia as strong favourites, but they'll face a side with the ability to make things difficult.

Together with a long flight and a pitch which won't necessarily suit Celtic's passing style, the draw has not been quite as favourable to the Scottish champions as it might have been.

Written by Andy Harrow