Europa League: Can Celtic Suduva again be used as a springboard to success?



Henrik Larsson scored three goals in an 8-1 victory when Suduva last visited Celtic Park
Qualifying match for the Europa League: Suduva against Celtic
Location: ARVI Football Arena, Suduva Date: Thursday, August 23 Kickoff: 18:00 BST
coverage: Listen live on Radio Scotland & online; text comment on BBC Sport website & app

If consolation prizes go, the one given to Celtic last week can be viewed in two ways.

The overwhelming disappointment in the immediate aftermath of Brendan Rodgers' worst week in charge of the club, culminating in the split-off from the Champions League, will continue throughout the season.

Despite the lack of victories and the recent hard lessons handed out by the best that Europe has to offer, the absence of razzmatazzia from the competition will leave a huge gap in the campaign of Scottish champions.

The third qualifying round in the hands of AEK in ancient Athens was a huge blow. But there is always hope between setbacks and this time it is in the form of the Europa League.

The tournament, formerly known as the Uefa Cup, has in the past given solace to the Scottish clubs and Celtic are no exception as they prepare for a play-off against FK Suduva.

The name of the Lithuanian club will immediately arouse interest in urged Celtic supporters.

In August 2002 there was the same disappointment when the side of Martin O & # 39; Neill was removed from the Champions League qualification matches by Basel.

When the competition went out, that one was bolder than this season, when a 3-1 advantage for the first leg was given when they visited Switzerland.

With shaved lips and curved heads around, Celtic was paired with the aforementioned FK Suduva, who parachuted in the Uefa Cup in the first round.

The adventure that followed culminated with 80,000 Celtic supporters who found their way to the Andalusian city of Seville for the final against Jose Mourinho's Porto.

Celtic lost the 2003 Uefa Cup final to Porto after defeating Suduva in the first round

The will of Stuttgart and Liverpool were defeated when O & # 39; Neill came so close to Joker Stein to win a European trophy for the club.

At the start of the trip, Suduva was brutally pushed to a total of 10-1, with Henrik Larsson taking a hat-trick in an 8-1 first-leg rout. It remains the last European triple listed by a Celtic player.

The Lithuanians will probably give a tighter test this time, while they continue to bash in their first championship.

By throwing Zalgiris from Vilnius to the title, they threaten a new era in Lithuanian football while continuing a successful title defense, 20 matches in the 2018 season.

Zalgiris was the main beneficiary of the financial implosion of Vladimir Romanov-Ukio Bankas who virtually wiped out hearts. It wiped out FBK Kaunas, the club that was synonymous with Tynecastle's endless player loans ten years ago, and also beat Rangers out of the Champions League qualifiers in 2008.

Kaunas and Zalgiris were the dominant forces in Lithuanian football. Only one remains and Suduva now makes hay.

The head coach of the club, Vladimir Cheburin, has lofty ambitions, undoubtedly encouraged by those maiden title victory almost a year ago.

The Kazakh states that he is confident that they can overcome Celtic and write history by becoming the first Lithuanian party to reach the group stage of a UEFA competition.

Cheburin has every right to cherish such lofty expectations, and not just because his team is currently in the Baltic.

And this is where Celtic must be careful.

& # 39; This is a dream for all footballers & # 39;

Suduva shocked APOEL Nicosia in the first Champions League qualifying round with a 3-2 overall victory and won 3-1 at home.

That performance is all the more impressive because the Cypriot champions last season, such as Celtic, participated in the group stage of the elite competition.

That feather-in-the-cap victory came less than a year after the Lithuanians had done the same on Swiss side Sion before finally collapsing on the Bulgarian outfit Ludogorets in the Europa-play-off.

Chilean midfielder Gerson Acevedo (right) poses a threat to Suduva

Celtic are clear favorites, but Suduva has strong points with Chilean cap Gerson Acevedo and Lithuania international and top scorer Ovidijus Verbickas a threat to the midfield.

However, suitors come successfully and they have lost two strikers this summer in the form of Croatian Josip Tadic, who has moved to Hong Kong with a goal-every-other-game record, and Karolis Laukzemis, who left for Croatia, with is top shooter last season.

After defeating Latvia's Spartans Jurmala 1-0 on the total in the previous round, Croatian defender Andro Svrljuga said: "This is a dream for all footballers who so often do not meet the big clubs.

"We will do it as a prize for what we have done this year and last year." Celtic, Celtic Park Stadium, it is incredible. "

It might be a consolation for Celtic, but with possible group matches against, among others, Arsenal, Chelsea, Sevilla and AC Milan, the razzmatazz could return this season.


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