Celtic placed between Arsenal and a European pot of gold
Arsenal are just a few days away from their biggest game of the season after drawing Celtic for a place in the Champions League group stage.
The Gunners will have been hoping for an easier play-off tie after being seeded for the draw but now face a ‘battle of Britain’ clash, just to make it past the qualifying stage.
The tie is crucial for Arsenal in both a football and financial sense; failure to win could be costly for a number of seasons to come. While the club may have money to spend at present, they also still have a new stadium to pay for and cannot afford a substantial gap in their income, courtesy of an early Champions League exit.
Teams competing in the group stages and beyond can earn up to £20million, in addition to £3million per game from television and match-day income. With a guaranteed minimum of six games for the play-off winners, it doesn’t take an accountant to spot the financial benefits of the competition and for teams that expect to qualify every year, the dangers.
With regards to Champions League betting, Arsenal will be favourites for the tie but face a Celtic side full of confidence after a historic 2-0 victory away to Dinamo Moscow. The Scottish runners-up had never previously won a European tie after losing the first leg at home but a late strike from former Manchester City striker Georgios Samaras saw them finally break their duck with a 2-1 aggregate win.
Speaking after the draw, Celtic first-team coach Mark Venus said:
“I think realistically it’s the draw that we probably wouldn’t have taken of the five teams, but we’ve got to look forward to it, enjoy it and relish it.”
“It’s going to be a great game, a great European night.”
“Arsenal are a talented bunch of footballers, a totally technical team, very patient in the build-up.
“I hope they’ll maybe underestimate us. This is a big club, we’ve got some good footballers, there will be a big crowd.”
The first leg is due to be played at Parkhead on the 18th of August, with the two teams heading to the Emirates the following week.