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Celtic vs Inter: A Look At The Bhoys’ European Demise

Ronny Deila faces the biggest task of his managerial career as his Celtic team face Italian giants Inter Milan on Thursday evening.

The colossal tie is a rematch of the 1967 European Cup final, where Jock Stein’s ambitious side defeated the imperious Inter 2-1 in Lisbon, who were under the guidance of tactical innovator and creator of catenaccio, Helenio Herrera. Deila appreciates the enormity of the occasion for the Celtic supporters, but was keen to stress his job was to make new memories for the Celtic supporters.

“I admit that I have a lot of other things to do than sit down and learn about the history of Celtic,”… I have to make history here, not watch it.

I haven’t educated myself in the history between the teams, I just know about the final in 1967. If you don’t know that, then you don’t really know anything about the history. It’s the best memory in Celtic history, so this is going to be huge.”

After Stein had become the first manager to lead a British team to success in the cup, he won nine Scottish titles consecutively and his side was narrowly defeated by Dutch outfit Feyenoord in another final appearance in 1970. The closest the Glaswegian club have come to replicating their successes in the 60’s came in 2003 in Seville, where 80,000 Bhoys’ fans travelled to support their side against Porto. Despite Henrik Larsson’s brace Celtic lost 3-2, conceding with five minutes remaining in extra-time.

Apart from the victory at Celtic Park against Barcelona as seen below, triumphs in European competition are few and far between. What has happened in the last decade? The force that was Celtic in Europe has crumbled.

Changes In Modern Football

Celtic may be unequivocally the biggest side with the largest budget in Scotland, but now it is impossible for them to compete on a global scale with the biggest European clubs. In the Champions League, a group stage win would earns a club €1 million. Hypothetically if Celtic were to win all six of their group stage matches, it would be equivocal to the fee paid for their record signing.

Real Madrid would have to win the competition nine times over to cover the cost of  most expensive recruit, Gareth Bale. Alas, the gift of TV money aids Madrid and other heavyweights in their pursuit of the world’s best players, something Celtic could not achieve due to their inadequate squad and geographical position. The fact the club do not play in a league that is not engorged with money hinders rather than helps them in their quest for European success.

There is a clear imbalance with regards to the sharing of  money for all sides in the Champions League, and here is an example of why that is the case. Looking back to the 2012-13 season, Celtic came second in their group, eventually succumbing to defeat in the next round against Juventus. In contrast, Montpellier finished bottom of their group on two points. The French side’s total earnings amounted to €32.3 million from their contribution to the competition, over nine million more than the financial benefits reaped by the Scottish club. In modern football, there is little chance in such climate for Celtic to return to the heights of their success without an investor pumping money into the club.

The Average Quality Of The Scottish League

As mentioned, the SPL can not afford to pay  huge bonuses to it’s participants, unlike in England and Spain where the top four are generously rewarded for their success in the league. Although in Scotland many talented players are produced, they are easily swayed by the temptation of testing themselves in better leagues. The Bhoys have already lost key members of the team that defeated Barca in Gary Hooper, Fraser Forster and Victor Wanyama, all of who moved to England. Without their stars and with a lack of serious financial muscle, it is difficult to see how Ronny Deila or any future Celtic manager can revive the team to the standard  set in the 60’s.

With possible absentees in Kris Commons and Mikael Lustig, the task of defeating Roberto Mancini’s Inter looks increasingly improbable, though Il Nerrazurri are far from the team that beat Barcelona to lift the Championship League trophy back in 2010. Mancini’ s misfits have underachieved this season, lying 10th from the table and twenty points away from leaders Juventus. For a side that has won the Scudetto eighteen times, more is expected. Back to back wins over Palermo and Atalanta will boost Inter’s confidence though, as will the return of Mauro Icardi from illness.

Celtic won in Lisbon. Five years later Inter won in the semi- finals of the European Cup 5-4 on penalties against the Bhoys. Both sides yearn to return to the Champions League, but for now, they have to contend with a chance to win the Europa League. What will the outcome be between the historic pair in 2015?

Celtic vs Inter is live on BT Sport 1 at 7.30pm.

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