PARIS (AFP) – The hotly-anticipated rematch between old rivals Celtic and Inter in Glasgow tops the bill in the Europa League last 32, with the
first legs to be played on Thursday evening.
The clubs famously met in the 1967 European Cup final in Lisbon, when Celtic triumphed 2-1 to become the first British club to be crowned champions of Europe.
Inter then gained a measure of revenge by winning on penalties when the sides clashed in the semi-finals of the same competition in 1972, and they have not met since.
Neither club is the force they once were, but there will still be a sell-out 60,000 crowd at Celtic Park as the Scottish champions look to record another memorable win against a Nerazzurri side now coached by Roberto Mancini.
“We will be judged after the two games. But we know we are playing well and with confidence,” said Celtic assistant manager John Collins ahead of the game, with the return leg in Milan on February 26.
Celtic have won their last eight matches but their limitations have been exposed in Europe this season and they must be wary of an Inter side who are fresh from recording handsome wins in their last two games.
Collins added: “We are not playing against another Scottish team but one full of internationals and a hugely-experienced manager who has won things at the top level.
“It will be a challenge for us. To win the tie we will have to play very well in both games but we are more than capable of that.”
Inter will be able to call upon Xherdan Shaqiri, the Swiss international signed last month from Bayern Munich. However, Lukas Podolski, brought in from Arsenal, is not eligible in Europe.
Celtic, meanwhile, are waiting to see if Kris Commons will recover from a hamstring problem in time.
After dropping out of the Champions League group stage, Liverpool take on Besiktas with the first leg at Anfield a repeat of their meeting in the Champions League in 2007, when Liverpool won 8-0, inflicting a record European defeat on the Turks.
Besiktas, coached by former Everton defender Slaven Bilic, come into this game on top of the Turkish league and buoyed by a 3-2 win against Bursaspor at the weekend, in which leading scorer Demba Ba netted a late penalty to secure the points.