Europa League preview: Celtic v Inter Milan

It’s a game which is certain to evoke memories of the 1967 European Cup final when Celtic take on Inter Milan in the last 32 of the Europa League.

The famous Lisbon Lions became the first British club to win the European Cup when second-half goals from Tommy Gemmell and Stevie Chalmers earned Jock Stein’s side a historic win.

The question now is whether there will be a new batch of Celtic heroes against Inter Milan in Europe.

The two clubs have met since that 1967 final, although it was only five years later when Inter beat Celtic on penalties in the semi-finals of the 1972 European Cup after two 0-0 draws.

Goals may not be at such a premium this time around, though, as Celtic manager Ronny Deila believes that attack is likely to be the best form of defence, especially at a raucous Parkhead.

Celtic made it eight wins in a row at the weekend after a 2-1 success at St Johnstone which saw the Scottish Premiership leaders concede a goal for the first time since losing 2-1 at Dundee United before Christmas.

Stefan Johansen is one man in form for Celtic after scoring in his last three appearances, while Leigh Griffiths has also been banging them in of late.

Celtic finished second in their Europa League group after beating Dinamo Zagreb and Astra at home, and they were even able to afford defeats in their last two matches and still qualify as runners-up behind Red Bull Salzburg.

They do have a poor recent record against Italian opposition to overcome after failing to win in their last seven games against clubs from Serie A.

But Celtic are certainly in flying form and, if you fancy a repeat of their 2-1 win in the European Cup final, then you could visit to see if you can find a free bet on that scoreline.

As for Inter Milan, well, Roberto Mancini is back in charge after returning to the club for his second spell as coach in November, but he is still struggling to inject consistency into his side.

Back-to-back wins at least snapped a three-game losing streak, but have done little to improve Inter’s standing in mid-table and European football next season looks a slim prospect at this stage.

Mancini is wary of John Guidetti after giving the on-loan Celtic striker his debut at Manchester City. However, Guidetti has gone 10 appearances since scoring his last goal at the end of November.

Inter were unbeaten in the group stage after winning three and drawing three of their games against Dnipro, St Etienne and Qarabag. They certainly kept it tight at the back as well after conceding just twice.

There will be no Lukas Podolski on show as the on-loan Arsenal attacker was omitted from Inter’s Europa League squad in favour of fellow January signing Xherdan Shaqiri. Newcastle defender Davide Santon, who is back on loan at Inter, has been included in their Europa League squad.

If the Celtic faithful can create a thunderous atmosphere, then that could swing the first leg in the Bhoys’ favour and give them a crucial advantage to take to Italy the following week.

C Adey

Owner of Scottish Football Forums. A fan of all forms of football, whether its being at the game, watching on TV, playing 7 a side, playing FIFA, playing Football Manager, or simply talking about it