Celtic suffered their third loss of the Champions League group stage campaign at the hands of RB Leipzig at Parkhead on matchday four (11 October), and they remain at the bottom of Group F with just a point to their name this season.
The Hoops suffered a 3-1 loss at the hands of the Bundesliga side when they met in the first-leg of the clash at
Red Bull Arena Leipzig earlier this month, and they just could not cope with the Germans’ superior quality in front of their home fans.
Celtic held Leipzig for 75 minutes, with goalkeeper Joe Hart denying the visitors several times, but the hosts’ attackers failed to convert the few chances that came their way at the other end.
However, Timo Werner opened the scoring for his side with 15 minutes left on the clock, and Emil Forsberg provided the nail in the coffin in the 84th minute to land a heavy blow on Ange Postecoglou’s men.
Celtic host Shakhtar Donetsk next later this month before travelling to Santiago Bernabeu to face group leaders Real Madrid, and they may need to win both games to have a chance of finishing in third and qualifying for the last-32 of the Europa League.
The Scottish Premiership giants can no longer finish second as both Leipzig and Shakhtar will finish above them regardless of the result of the clash between them on the last day of the group stage.
The Germans have six points and have defeated Celtic home and away, while the Ukrainians are on five points.
The Hoops held Shakhtar to a draw away from home, and they will be confident of their chances of a win when Igor Jovićević’s men visit Parkhead.
Picking up three points from that game will keep them in the race for the Europa League knockout stages, and they will need to get at least a draw against Madrid and hope Leipzig defeat Shakhtar.
While their title defence has gotten off to a brilliant start, with nine wins and a loss so far, they have clearly struggled against the continental bigwigs.
Failure to pick up points against the Bundesliga side and missing several chances in their 3-0 defeat to Madrid at Celtic Park have put them at risk of being without European football after Christmas.
They will need a lot of luck and some five-star performances in their next two games for their continental adventure to continue, but Postecoglou and his players would have learnt a lot from their campaign this season and will be better equipped going forward.
Leipzig will be playing in one of the knockout stages of the European competitions no matter what happens, but they will be keen to improve their domestic fortunes.
While they finished fourth in the league last season and second in 2020-21, they are currently 10th in the table after 10 games, with four wins, three draws and three defeats recorded so far.
That has left them eight points behind leaders Union Berlin, and manager Marco Rose will want to get his team back on track.