The Brendan Rodgers era didn’t get off to the best of starts as Celtic fell 1-0 to Lincoln Red Imps but the Scottish side quickly made up for the defeat as they secured a comfortable 3-0 victory in the second leg to secure their place in the next round of qualifying for the Champions League.
And while a place in the group stages of Europe’s elite club competition would be fantastic, it cannot be Celtic’s priority this season. Domestic glory has to be the number one objective for the forthcoming season – and here is why.
Celtic now have genuine competition in Rangers for the Scottish Premiership title. While Aberdeen are a very good side, the Dons never really had the quality to test Celtic over the course of an entire season.
But Rangers do. Mark Warburton’s men are officially back in the top flight and the Old Firm rivalry will be hotter than ever. Just imagine the scenes if Rangers go to Celtic in September and pick up a shock victory? The cat would certainly be amongst the pigeons if Gers could sneak a positive result.
Having said that, Rodgers could bring the fear factor back to Celtic Park this season and that bodes ill for every single team that has to visit the defending champions. At the time of writing, the best football odds show that Celtic are 1/4 to retain their title and you’d have to make them clear favourites based purely on the fact that this is Rangers’ first season back in the top flight.
With that aside, it’s a straight-up dogfight for top spot – and unfortunately, there could be a few on-field fights between Rangers and Celtic throughout the campaign as well.
And while the title may come down to a head-to-head clash between Celtic and Rangers, the Scottish Cup brings a number of other clubs into play. The likes of Aberdeen and Hearts will fancy their chances of pipping the two Scottish giants to the cup final – and the lottery of the draw means that it is almost impossible to predict.
Based purely on the strength of Celtic’s squad, Rodgers will be quietly confident of reaching the latter stages at least but an away tie at Rangers could prove very difficult indeed.
While success in the cup would be nice, the league title has to remain Celtic’s number one priority. The Bhoys simply cannot afford to let Rangers win the division in their first season back in the top flight and Rodgers will be keen to secure at least one piece of silverware in his maiden campaign at Celtic Park.
With Aberdeen and Hearts fighting over third place, it could be a two-horse race and Rodgers’ men have the nous, the experience and the talent to secure yet another Scottish title. And with a bit of luck, the cup could follow suit…