Why the Europa League is better for Celtic than the Champions League ever could have been this term

Nights like Thursday prove what the competition can offer the SPL side.

Thursday night, when they beat Astra Giurgiu 2-1, was another memorable European occasion for Celtic.

It may not have had the glitz and the glam of a Champions League encounter. But so what?

This season, the Europa League might just offer the Bhoys more than its continental brother ever could.

The brutal truth was that Ronny Deila's men weren't ready for the Champions League. That's why, naturally, they were knocked out by Maribor even after having been reinstated during qualifying. The same Maribor that have lost 6-0 to Chelsea, of course.

Liverpool are suffering from the same problem right now. Brendan Rodgers' men are really struggling in Europe and what good is it doing them? They can still make it through the group stages but right now there would be little point.

Celtic, however, are flying high in the Europa League. One draw - away from home - and two wins have given them the kind of confidence they simply couldn't have achieved in the Champions League.

Hypothetically, let's say the Bhoys were drawn in Maribor's group. They would have had to face a superior Chelsea side at Stamford Bridge and then Schalke and Sporting Lisbon. And all for the prize of a tie that Deila's side would not win nine times out of 10 in the knockout stages.

That's not a slur on Celtic but a proposition that, this way, things are much better for the SPL champions.

In the Europa League, Deila can actually target something. Realistically, there is nothing stopping him men from going very far in the competition. When asked about reaching the final, for instance, the Norwegian told reporters in September: "If we get the right progress and, of course a bit of luck, anything is possible."

That's certainly not something that could have been said in the Champions League.

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