Celtic’s new era of European football under Ange Postecoglou gets underway on Tuesday, as Danish side FC Midtjylland pay a visit to Parkhead for the first leg of their Champions League second qualifying round tie.
Neither side warmed up for this encounter in ideal fashion, as the Bhoys suffered a 1-0 friendly defeat to Preston North End while Midtjylland opened their league campaign with a 2-1 defeat to Odense Boldklub.
Not since the 2017-18 season have Celtic managed to progress as far as the Champions League group stages – falling at the second round of qualifying to Ferencvaros last year – but they can take solace in the fact that Midtjylland also prepare for continental competition on the back of a demoralising defeat.
Danish Superliga runners-up Midtjylland had the pleasure of kicking off the 2021-22 season on Friday against Odense Boldklub – the side who languished to an eighth-placed finish last term – but the game did not quite go according to the script.
Whether Henriksen’s comments are a simple case of mind games remains to be seen, but Midtjylland are a side who know how to compete with the continent’s finest having managed to claim draws against Liverpool and Atalanta BC in last year’s group stage.
These teams have never faced off before but Celtic have a decent record against Danish opposition, winning seven of their 14 matches and losing just four.
They crashed out of the Europa League two seasons ago when Copenhagen won 3-1 at Parkhead (below) after a 1-1 draw in Denmark.
Midtjylland faced the other side of Glasgow in a qualifier for the same competition that season and crashed to a 7-2 aggregate loss to Rangers.
Celtic still have plenty of firepower going forward so it bodes well for an open game.
Neither Celtic nor Midtjylland will be brimming with confidence before the first ball is kicked on Tuesday, and a cagey affair may be in store as both sides prepare to meet for the very first time.
The Bhoys have some of their experienced pros returning to fitness at just the right time, but the visitors are not to be underestimated in any circumstances, and we can see the first leg finishing all square to leave everything to play for in Denmark next week.
Our prediction: Draw @ 3.54