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Is it better to be humiliated in front of the entire continent – as Celtic have suffered in recent seasons – or miss out on Champions League football entirely? 

For many Hoops supporters, failing to beat Midtjylland, Cluj or Ferencvaros at the qualification stage stings far worse than a thumping defeat against the star-studded might of Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich or Barcelona.

Struggling to deal with Lionel Messi or Robert Lewandowski is one thing. Conceding twice, on home soil, to a Romania-based striker who’s scored just six goals in the past two seasons is another. 

What now for Celtic after Dom McKay exit?

What now for Celtic after Dom McKay exit?

Then again, if Celtic defend like they did for much of their 2-1 defeat to AZ Alkmaar last month – a game in which Stephen Welsh and £4 million summer signing Carl Starfelt made horrific errors – don’t bet against Bayer Leverkusen or Real Betis handing out another lesson to a side that conceded the joint-most goals in a Europa League group stage as the Neil Lennon era unravelled last season. 

Celtic will need to be on their guard against Real Betis

Real Betis, Celtic’s opponents at Thursday tea-time, finished sixth in La Liga last season.

They have a World Cup winner in their ranks in the shape of Nabil Fekir, a silky Spain international playmaker in Sergio Canales, a £28 million striker in Borja Iglesias, not to mention 64-cap Portugal enforcer William Carvalho, ex-Barcelona defender Marc Bartra, Arsenal loanee Hector Bellerin and Copa America medallist Guido Rodriguez. 

Furthermore, in Cristian Tello, Betis also have a player who knows what it takes not just to defeat Celtic but destroy them. 

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It was Tello who put the final nail in the coffin seven years ago, scoring the last goal of the night as Barcelona thumped a beleaguered, battered Celtic 6-1 at Camp Nou, his shot deflecting in off a fresh-faced Virgil van Dijk. 

“This is just the result and performance we needed. We really got stuck into giving a good performance, very intense from front to back,” said the speedy winger at full-time, via Goal

“We worked so hard, moved the ball so well and pressed so hard Celtic didn’t have a chance to think. You can see all this in the size of the scoreline.”

Celtic supporters will be praying that, as they prepare to face Tello in Spain again, history in no way repeats itself. 

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