Tomorrow Celtic will play in Russia for the fourth time in European competion since the break up of the old Soviet Union.
Our last three encounters have taken us to Moscow, where the Bhoys won twice, 2-0 against Dynamo in 2009, and that memorable 3-2 Champions League win over Spartak in 2012. Our previous game against Spartak in Russia ended in a credible 1-1 draw in 2007.
So, the Hoops are technically unbeaten on Russian soil, albeit all three games were played in the capital Moscow.
Tomorrow, we travel to 700k north to the Baltic port of St Petersburg to face local side Zenit, one of the big spenders in the Russian league. Manager Roberto Mancini is known to spend a bob or two, as his spell at Manchester City will testify.
That of course doesn’t guarantee you success.
Only last week he brought his team to Glasgow as favourites and left with a 1-0 defeat. Celtic were brilliant on the night, and to say the fact it was the Zenit players first game in two months is being disengenuous to the Bhoys.
However, tomorrow’s game will be different.
For a start the game with a lead, that may influence the way manager Brendan Rodgers picks his team. The match is also being played on a totally new hybrid pitch for the first time. That may suit the Bhoys as Zenit won’t have played on it either.
And of course the occasion. We’ve all seen it before, losing an early goal then it’s uphill from there on in. That is simply an option we cannot afford in St Petersburg.
Having said that, we are always likely to nick a goal, having done so in Paris and Brussels in our Champions League group games. We’ve done it before and we’ll do it again…
We all know draw will be suffice. Let’s hope we can go get one…