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Celebrating Scotland’s European Adventures This Season!

Date: 30th November 2018

In recent years, I’ve moaned that Scottish teams haven’t been good enough and rely too much on one club to show up every year. 

Yet this season has seen our teams show real signs of improvement. 

With one game to go in the Europa League group stage both Celtic and Rangers hold their own destiny in their hands. 

Scottish Premiership champions Celtic may have been disappointed to not reach the Champions League group stages but in recent weeks The Hoops have hit top form both domestically and in Europe. 

If they gain a point or more in their next home tie against Red Bull Salzburg then Brendan Rodgers’ men will be through to the knock-out rounds. 

The Hoops have beaten Rosenborg twice and also picked up a home win over Bundelisga cracks RB Leipzig. We all know that Celtic have a terrific home record in Europe and everyone will be hoping that can continue with a victory over the Austrian league leaders. 

What’s great about The Hoops success has been their impressive Scottish spine.

Scott Brown, Craig Gordon, Jack Hendry, Kieran Tierney, Leigh Griffiths, James Forrest, Callum McGregor and Ryan Christie have all played apart in the club’s success so far this term. 

The standout game in their group for me, was Celtic’s triumph over Leipzig. In that game the two key players were McGregor and Christie in midfield. Both Scottish internationals had fine games. Christie had a 100% tackling success rate, after winning all ten of tackles he made. Christie also provide the assist for Odsonne Edouard’s winner. No player made more interceptions than Callum McGregor and the midfielder also made thirty-eight passes. The duo bossed the midfield area and were vital in securing the important three points. 

Another key performer that night was left-back Tierney, who scored the games opener and who had the most touches of the ball in that fixture. 

Glasgow rivals Rangers have had an extremely successful European campaign in manager Steven Gerrard’s debut season. 

They’ve lost just once in thirteen European games so far this season and if they win in their last group game against Rapid Vienna in Austria, then their name will be in the hat for the next round. The Govan side have managed to gain positive results against Spanish, Croatian, Russian and Austrian opponents thus far. 

A huge part of the success at Ibrox has been the performances of Scottish international goalkeeper Allan McGregor. The Gers have kept seven cleansheets in this impressive thirteen game run. Allan has produced many a fine save that has won his team points this term. He proved yet again what a star goalie he is with some superb stops against Villarreal this week. 

Teenager Glenn Middleton has shown up well in his five Europa League outings. The winger’s got a real desire to attack teams and that gets supporters out of their seats. His introduction against Villarreal in Spain helped Gers claim a draw and the eighteen year old also netted against Spartak Moscow. 

If Rangers can secure a victory in Vienna, then that would cap a wonderful European campaign that’s surprised everyone. 

I would also like to point out the fine job Hibs did this year. 

Neil Lennon is such a good coach for the big occasions and he superbly guided his Hibs side to the third qualifying round of the Europa League. 

They convincingly beat NSI Runavik before expertly seeing off Greek side Asteras Tripolis in the second qualifying round. They would eventually lose out to Molde but The Hibees showed great guts and proved that they are improving at this level. 

Aberdeen were very unlucky to get English Premier League side Burnley as their first opponents but The Dons fought to the wire before losing out after extra time to their far richer opponents. 

In the women’s game, Glasgow City once again impressed in their Champions League run before losing to Barcelona in the last sixteen round. 

Scotland captain Andrew Robertson has once again shown up well in the Champions League for Liverpool and Scottish youngster Charlie Gilmour made his Arsenal debut in their Europa League win over Vorskla last night. 

Here’s hoping both Rangers and Celtic can get the results needed to extend their European runs beyond Christmas. They along, with the other Scottish sides this year, have shown us this season that we can compete on the continent and that’s a real reason to be cheerful as we head into December. 

By Scott Johnston (

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