By CONNOR PARK
IT’S THE PROVERBIAL Battle of Britain, but not as you know it.
Celtic and Leicester may not have faced off against each other in this year’s Champions League but their stories throughout the campaign have been remarkable in every sense of the word.
A lot has been made of Leicester’s ‘easy’ Champions League group that the Foxes won at a canter. The champions of England’s fairytale goes on but just how would the Champions of Scotland have fared in such an ‘easy’ group?
I don’t know about you, but the words easy and Champions League in the same sentence just don’t seem to fit.
Brendan Rodgers’ side can but dream of what could have been as they assess a campaign where they finished bottom of Group G having failed to pick up a win.
A group consisting of Manchester City, Borussia Möenchengladbach and Barcelona was always going to be tougher than a group of Brugge, FC Porto and Copenhagen, of that there is no denying.
The question may well be though would Leicester have fared better and picked up more than three points in such a tough group?
Look back only a few months to August when Celtic drew 1-1 with Leicester City in Glasgow and it’s fair to say that some with green tinted spectacles would have had you believe that their team could compete with the English Champions.
The more football-savvy in society will know that quite simply that is far from the case, if nothing else due to the financial mountains between the two sides and that one result in pre-season does not define Champions League campaign.
That pre-season friendly saw Celtic field a strong side that included the likes of Patrick Roberts, Leigh Griffiths and Moussa Dembele. Leicester, on that occasion were without the likes of Schmeichel, Vardy, Schlupp and Huth in the starting XI.
It was always looking positive for Ranieri’s side following an impressive 3-0 victory over Brugge on Matchday One. Celtic began with a 7-0 thumping away to Barcelona.
I won’t for a second suggest that there isn’t a notable difference in quality of opposition, but it still remains an incredibly disappointing result for the Parkhead outfit.
No one ever approaches a match against Barcelona confident of a win, but in fairness to Leicester you could speculatively assume they wouldn’t be beaten by seven goals, considering they lost by just the two to the Spanish giants in pre-season.
Or can you? For Celtic themselves were only beaten 3-1 by Barcelona in the very same pre-season tournament. At this point in time an argument over who’d lose less goals to Barcelona really does seem pointless though.
The more and more the results and links are divulged between these two British champions, the more it becomes clear just how unclear the potential permutations of various group standings and draws can be.
And what about Manchester City? Well Leicester have yet to play Pep Guardiola’s men this season, while Celtic have managed to take two spirited points over two matches in this year’s Champions League Group Stage.
Leicester did manage to defeat City 3-1 last season, but how much results can be taken into account from a prior campaign will become far clearer on Saturday when the two teams play each other at the King Power Stadium.
In truth, there is one very simple conclusion you can make between Celtic and Leicester, Brendan Rodgers’ side would love to be in the Foxes’ position.
Longer term, Celtic fans will believe in their team’s ability to qualify for the Champions League Knockout Stage, whether they need one of those ‘easy’ draws to do it though remains to be seen.